A Study in Islamic Tolerance: As Practiced by Muhammad and his Immediate Successors 9781463212582

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A Study in Islamic Tolerance





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Analecta Gorgiana

23 Series Editor George Kiraz

Analecta Gorgiana is a collection of long essays and short monographs which are consistently cited by modern scholars but previously difficult to find because of their original appearance in obscure publications. Carefully selected by a team of scholars based on their relevance to modern scholarship, these essays can now be fully utilized by scholars and proudly owned by libraries.

A Study in Islamic Tolerance

As Practiced by Muhammad and his Immediate Successors

Adolph L. Wismar

1 gorgias press 2009

Gorgias Press LLC, 180 Centennial Ave., Piscataway, NJ, 08854, USA www.gorgiaspress.com Copyright © 2009 by Gorgias Press LLC Originally published in 1927 All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise without the prior written permission of Gorgias Press LLC. 2009


ISBN 978-1-59333-580-9

Printed in the United States of America

ISSN 1935-6854




A STUDY I N TOLERANCE AS PRACTICED BY MUHAMMAD AND H I S IMMEDIATE SUCCESSORS Humani iuris et naturalis potestatis est unicuique, quod putaverit, colere, nec alii obest aut prodest alterius religio. Sed nec religionis est cogere religionem, quae sponte suscipi debeat, non vi; cum et hostiae ab animo libenti expostulentur. Tertullian, ad Scapulam, II,

F O R E W O R D M O H A M M E D A N I S M must always command the interest of men who think and read about the history of religion. Its story has been unique. It has gone into so many countries and has influenced so many civilizations that every phase of its early development is worth study and careful research. Upon the one hand, it has been pronounced tolerant and unoffending. On the other, it is accused of being impassioned and over enthusiastic. Dr. Wismar has studied the Koran and the early authorities in order find out in what measure the word "tolerant" can be applied to Mohammed and to his immediate successor?. It is a study that I commend heartily to the reader and I hope that Dr. Wismar will pursue still further this investigation, in order to give us a true picture of the Mohammedanism that made its way 'from Arabia into Africa, into Asia, and into parts of Europe. RICHARD












II 62




INTRODUCTION IN dealing with religion a state best consults its own interests, as well as those of its citizens and others dwelling within its borders, by granting complete religious liberty. This means that the state realizes that freedom of worship is part and parcel of inalienable human rights. Accepting this truth and acting according to it the state consistently refuses to give preference to one religion over another. I t considers all dwelling under its jurisdiction not as adherents of a certain religious cult, but merely as citizens, as individuals entitled to its protection. I n other words, the state minds its own peculiar business, which is to attend to civil matters. What a man chooses to believe or not to believe is a matter between him and his Creator and does not disqualify him in any civic rights. But religious liberty becomes impossible whenever a certain religion or a certain religious denomination receives preferential treatment from a government. Under such an arrangement the established church enjoys advantages which other religions, other denominations must forego. The established church enjoys, let us say, financial support secured by the government for it through taxes levied on all that enjoy its protection. The fact that some of the tax-payers may not want the taxes so applied is not taken into account by the government. Again, the members of an established church find the attainment of political position easy, whereas the adherents of other creeds are confronted with xiii



difficulties of all sorts when they undertake to secure a place of political preferment. Furthermore, when a congregation of one of the denominations that are not in the government's favor undertakes to erect a place of worship, it finds all manner of hindrances placed in its way by the government. I n other words, one cult is made the favored cult, all others are, more or less, step-children. I t is this sort of treatment of other cults by a state and under the influence of an established church that is known as tolerance. Other cults and creeds beside the favored one are allowed to exist, but always under certain restrictions. These restrictions may be of varying severity. They may readily become so severe that it is difficult to distinguish them from actual persecution. However, normally tolerance means that a state, espousing a certain religion or creed, allows those of its people who do not accept the established and favored faith to exercise the worship of their preference and conviction, but with certain restrictions and under specified embarrassments. I t is this tolerance as practiced by Islam under the prophet and the first two Caliphs that is the subject of this study. This must not be taken to mean that this tolerance was always and everywhere practiced by the Muslim state. The Islam of the Qur'an is theocratic and the Muslim state was a theocracy from its first attainment to power. The Muslim church was the Muslim state inasmuch as it dealt with civil affairs. The affairs of the state had to be regulated and conducted according to a divine revelation. Muhammad received his instructions from Allah. These instructions might concern prayer, or alms, or food and drink ; or the relation of believer to believer, or the relation of believer to unbeliever. The



Qur'an was the revelation of Allah covering every detail of public worship and daily conduct. Thus the best that one can expect from Muhammadanism, abiding in the ways of the prophet, when it is confronted with the necessity of dealing with people refusing to accept Allah and his messenger, is tolerance. Other religions may be permitted to exist by the side of the one favored religion within the Muslim state, but always under certain restrictions, always under prescribed disabilities. Naturally enough, the restrictions thus placed upon adherents of other faiths would vary from time to time. Where there is, for example, but a small Jewish community, scrupulously abiding within the limits of the covenant by which it enjoys tolerance, there is little likelihood that a more rigorous interpretation of the terms of its charter will be attempted. Or again, if a ruler is of an easy-going disposition, naturally peaceful, anxious to avoid unnecessary disturbances and annoyances, the protected cults will have little cause for apprehension on the score of their guaranteed privileges. But, on the other hand, when members of the tolerated cults succeed in numbers in securing places of eminence and influence, the will of Allah is likely to be scrutinized very carefully by zealous Muslims and a more stringent exposition of the inspired regulations or a more conscientious application of the terms of the tolerated people's charter may be found. Or, granted that a ruler is scrupulously religious, deeply concerned about every jot and tittle of his moral code, possessed by a burning desire to please Allah, so that Allah may not cast him off on the day of judgment, stern measures will naturally be used towards protected and tolerated cults by such a ruler.



But tolerance was not always the rule of practice. True enough, there are not a few who would have us believe that the Muslims have been extremely tolerant, that the prophet himself laid the foundations for this laudable policy, and that he himself did not depart from this excellent standard in dealing with such as could not convince themselves of the correctness of his claims. It is considerably easier to make this contention than to substantiate it. îiot only do we find considerable fluctuation as to the measure of tolerance allowed other religions, but we also find cases that wear a much more sinister aspect. This statement applies to the prophet himself. It holds good with reference to other Muslim rulers also. But such cases, after all, constitute the exceptions to the general rule of tolerance for other cults.



T. W. ARNOLD 1 says in his interesting and learned volume, "The Preaching of Islam," that "while the spread of this faith (Islam) over so vast a portion of the globe is due to various causes, social, political and religious: among these, one of the most powerful factors at work in the production of this stupendous result, has been the unremitted labours of the Muslim missionaries, who, with the prophet himself as their great ensample, have spent themselves for the conversion of unbelievers. The duty of missionary work is no after-thought in the history of Islam, but was enjoined on believers from the beginning, as may be judged from the following passages in the Qur'an—which are here quoted in chronological order according to their date of being delivered." He then proceeds to quote twenty-two Qur'an passages, the purport of which is to inculcate the preaching of Islam. A few may be set down here to give a correct idea of the tenor of these passages. "Summon thou to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and with kindly warning: dispute with them in the kindest manner" (Sura 16, 126). i Arnold, T. "W. The Preaching & Co., 1913, p. B.

of Islam, 2d ed. London, Constable



"For this cause summon thou (them to the faith), and walk uprightly therein as thou hast been bidden, and follow not their desires: and say: In whatsoever Books God hath sent down do I believe: I am commanded to decide justly between you: God is your Lord and our Lord: we have our works and you have your works: between us and you let there be no strife: God will make us all one: and to Him shall we return" (42, 13.14). "Say to those who have been given the Book and the ignorant, Do you accept Islam ? Then, if they accept Islam, are they guided aright: but if they turn away then thy duty is only preaching: and God's eye is on His servants" (3, 19). "Tell those who believe to pardon those who hope not for the day of God in which H e purposeth to recompense men according to their deserts" (45, 13). "Let there be no compulsion in religion" (2, 257). 2 Arnold asserts that the ideal of missionary patience and forbearance as outlined in the Qur'an was realised in history, "that these principles of missionary activity were put into practice by the exponents of Islam." 3 H e warns his readers that he is not writing a history of Muhammadan persecutions but of Muhammadan missions. H e asserts: "The life of the founder of Islam and the inaugurator of its propaganda may naturally be expected to exhibit to us the true character of the missionary activity of this religion. If the life of the prophet serves as the standard of conduct for the ordinary believer, it must do the same for the Muslim missionary. From the pattern, therefore, we may hope to learn something of the spirit 2 Arnold, pp. 3-6. 3 Arnold, p. 6.



that would animate those who sought to copy it, and of the methods they might be expected to adopt. For the missionary spirit of Islam is no after-thought in its history; it interpenetrates the religion from its very commencement." 4 Now in making an estimate of these statements it is necessary to take the following into serious consideration. Arnold indeed presents an imposing array of Qur'an texts to substantiate his contention that Islam was from the very first a missionary religion. But even so he is giving only one side of the case. For there is another set of sayings in the Qur'an that have something to do with the missionary program of Islam. And these other statements are as clear and as important as those which Arnold quotes. They are words of Allah, given by him to his prophet for the instruction and guidance of the faithful. They are therefore quite as binding as any statement in the vein of those urged by Arnold. Moreover, exception must be taken to the declaration that the texts presented by him are given in chronological order. As we shall see a little further on, the position which a text now occupies in the Qur'an is not to be taken as full and final proof of its age and order of delivery. Furthermore, it is quite impossible to draw a sharp line of demarcation between Muhammad the prophet and Muhammad the statesman. Whatever Muhammad says is Allah's will to believers. I t is all of a religious nature. Therefore it is futile to make this distinction, especially with reference to the matter under consideration. Nor must we omit to recall that there are two distinct periods in the development of Muhammad. The Muham* Arnold, p. 11.



mad of Makka is all but a failure. H e succeeds in making only a small number of converts. His enemies are ready to despatch him because of his preaching. H e must needs seek an asylum outside of his native city, after about twelve years of strenuous effort under adverse conditions have netted very meagre results. Hence, if one insists that these repeated statements that Muhammad is come merely to preach are to be understood as meaning that in no case and never was the messenger of Allah to use other measures to further the cause of Allah, one can do so only by forgetting the time at which and the circumstances under which these statements were made. Furthermore, Muhammad at Madina in A.D. 622 or 623 has a different outlook with reference to people of other creeds than that same Muhammad had soon thereafter. Thus, even if some of these statements belong to the early Madina activity of the prophet, to regard them as final is unwarranted. A few remarks are necessary with reference to the winged word of Sura 2, 257: "Let there be no compulsion in religion." A different interpretation than that usually given these words is suggested by the Qur'an itself. Also, the position in which these four words stand invites reflection. Immediately preceding it is the well-known "throne verse," which reads: "Allah! There is no God but he, the living, the self-existing. To him belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth. Who may make intercession with him, unless he permits it ? H e knows the present and the future, and men do not attain to any knowledge of him, unless he grants it. His wide power embraces the heavens and the earth, and to have them in his care does not overwhelm him. For he is the high, the great." 5 Ims Sura, 2, 256.



mediately after it come the following words: "The difference between truth and error has now been made clear; and whoever renounces the idol and believes in Allah has taken hold of a handle in which there is no crack; and Allah hears and knows." 6 The one verse exalts the supreme power of Allah, the other speaks of pagan Arabs. Pagan Arabs did not succeed in qualifying as objects of Muhammad's tolerance. Allah, the high and lofty, offered them the alternative of Allah and his messenger, or the sword. Thus the words: "There shall be no compulsion in religion," may be misplaced, if they are too mean that no one is in any way or manner to be compelled to accept Islam. Moreover, the manner in which the Qur'ân was brought into its present form readily permitted the misplacing of certain verses. At first the revelations which Allah gave Muhammad were not written down at all. Later the prophet employed, it is said, Zaid ibn Thabit as his scribe. His writing materials were ribs of palm leaves, stone tablets, bits of leather, and bones. After the death of the prophet, so tradition says, Abu Bakr, the first caliph, acting upon the suggestion of 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, had Zaid ibn Thabit assemble the fragments inscribed with the revelations of Allah. I t must be observed that ïïoeldeke utterly rejects the traditions which declare Abu Bakr to have busied himself with editing the Qur'ân. "Auf keinen Fall," he says, "fuehrt ein Weg von Omar (als Qur'ansammler) zurueck zu Abu Bakr." 7 He holds that 'Umar had a private copy of the Qur'ân and that upon his death it became the possession « Sura, 2, 257. i Noeldeke, Theodor. Leipzig, II, p. 22.








of his daughter Ilafsa. That 'Uthman, the third caliph did order an edition, no doubt a revision of existing copies, is beyond cavil. Now, whenever the first compilations were made, it is evident that no fixed rule was observed, but that the work was performed with considerable latitude and freedom as far as the arrangement of material is concerned. That such was the case is further evidenced by the great lack of logical sequence and cohesion in many of the Süras. Xoeldeke says: "Mit annaehernder Sicherheit laesst sich literarische Einheit bei den groesseren Suren nur da verfechten, wo Gleichheit und Gleichartigkeit des Inhalts vorliegt, oder wo sich ein Refrain wie ein roter Faden durch das Ganze hindurchzieht. Viel zweifelhafter ist die Sache schon bei den Suren 17, 41, 7. Vollends bei den Suren 2, 8, 63, 4 und 9 ist jede Entscheidung ein Ding der Unmoeglichkeit." 8 Note that Noeldeke mentions Süra 2 as one of those in which it is well-nigh impossible to detect any logical coherence. Hence we must not assume that, merely because a saying of the prophet occupies a certain position now, it always held that place. And if, perchance, attention is called to the fact that the words in question were used on occasion by some later Muslims in the commonly accepted sense, such employment of them does not necessarily mean correct interpretation. However, as indicated above, the Qur'än itself gives a valuable clue to a different construction of these words, a construction which, incidentally, admits of application to some of the other Qur'än passages quoted by Arnold. Süra 10, 96-100 reads as follows: "Behold, they against whom the word of thy Lord is determined (of whom Allah has s Noeldeke, op. cit., II, pp. 2, 3.



decreed that they shall not believe) will not believe, not even if all the signs (miracles) came to them. And if not (perhaps: What is that to you?)—a city that had believed would have profited by its faith. (None other) except the people of Jonah, when they believed, did we deliver from disgraceful punishment in this life and permit them to enjoy it for a season. And if thy Lord had willed it, truly, every one in the whole world would believe. Wilt T H O U compel ('afa 'anta tukrihu) people to believe? No one can believe except by Allah's leave, and his wrath will be sent upon them that fail to understand." If we bear in mind that Muhammad had considerable difficulty in gaining adherents for his claims and his cause, these words explain themselves readily. His contention was that Allah had given him the true guidance, the true religion, a sure way into paradise. But most of his hearers in Makka obstinately refused to be convinced of the excellence of his message and the correctness of his claims. I n fact, the Makkans tried to kill him, the emissary of Allah, the "seal of the prophets." 9 What was the trouble ? Was he, Muhammad, perhaps to blame ? Or was his message after all not what he believed and taught it to be ? Otherwise, why were there not more converts ? The answer that Allah gives is: Muhammad cannot control this serious and difficult matter of convincing and converting men. If Allah had decreed unbelief for certain people, Muhammad's message would not carry conviction for them. Sura 2, 5.6. says: "As for the unbelievers, it is all one, whether you warn them, or do not warn them. Allah has sealed their hearts and their ears, and upon their eyes is a veil." I t is quite evident that these » Sura, 33, 40.



and similar verses are meant as a consolation for Muhammad. Let it be true that many do not believe. That strange fact cannot invalidate his message nor abrogate his apostleship. They who do not believe, do not believe because Allah has so willed, because Allah has not given them permission to believe. And not even the messenger of Allah can alter that. I t is not within his power, not within the reach of any human power to compel men into acceptance of Allah's message. This teaching of the Qur'an will help us to understand Sura 2, 257. Evidently the original purport of the words is that man cannot make submission to Allah, become a Muslim, of his own accord. Allah himself must work that submission^ or it will never be made by anyone. There can hardly be any doubt then that the question at issue is not: What are the methods to be employed in the propagation of Islam ? The question is rather: Who is the agent affecting conversion to Islam % Neither is the matter seeking adjustment, what treatment is to be meted out to those who obstinately and obdurately refuse submission to Allah's, that is, the prophet's message. I t is not hard to conceive that Muhammad might, on the one hand, stoutly affirm that they who reject Allah's message do this because Allah has so willed, and yet, on the other hand, vigorously insist that such victims of judicial blindness should be made to suffer in some way or another for their rebellious behavior against Allah and his chosen messenger. As a matter of fact, the Qur'an itself teaches very plainly that they who refuse Islam are to suffer for such refusal. I n Sura 9, 2 - 5 we read: "A proclamation from Allah and his messenger on the day of the great pilgrimage to the effect that Allah and his messenger are released



from obligation towards the idolaters. And if you repent, that is better for you. But if you turn your backs (on Allah's messenger), then know that you cannot baffle Allah. And proclaim to the unbelievers painful punishment. Excepted (from the treatment prescribed in the words "painful punishment") are those idolaters with whom you have a covenant and who have lived up to its terms and have helped no one against you. Fulfil unto them their covenant for the time agreed upon. Behold, Allah loves the god-fearing. But when the holy months have elapsed, slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and seize them, and besiege them, and lie in ambush for them with all the skill you can muster. But if they repent, and pray, and give alms, let them alone. Behold, Allah is forgiving, merciful." The pagan Arabs were, according to the above dictum of Allah, to be treated as follows: They who have no covenant with the Muslims are to be liable to the treatment described as painful punishment at once. Others, namely such as had a covenant with the Muslims, were to enjoy immunity during the four holy months. After that they were to be killed wherever found. They could save their lives by repentance, i.e., by declaring their submission to Allah and accepting Muhammad as his inspired messenger. Hence, for the idolater, the pagan Arab, there was only the alternative of death or Islam. H e is not to be tolerated. He must abandon his idols and accept Islam, or die. That is the final injunction of Allah with reference to idolaters. If the pagan sees the light under such painful circumstances, if he prefers Islam to death, the truth still holds that Muhammad has not achieved such conversion. The credit for the conversion goes to Allah, and to him alone.



The same Sura provides some very pointed and very clear regulations with reference to the treatment of Christians and Jews. Sura 9, 29-33 proposes the following orders to the obedience of devout Muslims: "Wage war against those to whom the Book has been given, who do not believe in Allah and in the last day, and do not prohibit what Allah and his messenger have prohibited, and do not profess the true religion, until they pay jizya 10 with their own hands and are made vile. And the Jews say, 'Ezra is the son of Allah,' while the Christians say, 'The Messiah is the Son of Allah.' That is what they say. Their speech resembles that of the unbelievers of old. May Allah curse them! How senseless they are! They take their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah, the son of Mary, as lords beside Allah, although they were commanded to serve only one God. There is no God but he. Praise be to him to the exclusion of that which they put on a level with him. They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths. But Allah will assuredly bring his light to perfection, that he may make it victorious over every other religion, even though they who give Allah associates loathe it." I t is evident from this statement of Muhammad that they who have the Book, the Scriptures, i.e., Jews and Christians, are to be brought to terms. The Muslims are to make war upon them, until they pay jizya and are humbled to the dust. According to Muhammad, the Christian worship of Jesus amounted to giving Allah an associate. As for the Jews, it is rather strange that he charges them with believing that Ezra is the son of Allah. Perhaps he had heard the Jews make much of Ezra as the restorer of their law, and as he misJ° Capitation tax.



understood so many things, so he also misunderstood the importance they attached to E z r a and his reformation. At any rate, he was annoyed at the regard in which Christians and J e w s held their teachers.

B u t the gist of the

accusation against them is that they give Allah associates, that they put others on the same level with Allah.


sistency Would have required, one should think, that they were candidates for the same treament accorded to pagans "who took other lords beside Allah," because, according to Muhammad's judgment, they were in like condemnation.

They were polytheists according to his verdict and

should be dealt with as such. B u t Muhammad did not treat them as polytheists.


had all along acknowledged the divine authority of both the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. him, he claimed.

Both prophesied of

And both J e w s and Christians were ex-

pected to know that it was even as the messenger of Allah said.

At any rate, they were "people of the Book," people

whom Allah, Muhammad's God, had previously visited with a revelation of his will, and such a revelation as bore witness unto Muhammad.

Now these considerations con-

ditioned his treatment of J e w s and Christians.


they are guilty in his judgment of giving Allah associates, yet, because God has previously favored them with a divine revelation which, as he is confident, speaks of his coming and endorses his mission, they are not to be compelled to abandon their religion.

B u t they must be humbled.


must, i f they refuse the invitation to embrace Islam, be defeated and pay the capitation





sternly rebukes the remissness of the Muslims in putting the directions touching war against the people of the Book into practice with becoming zeal and vigor.

F o r there



Allah's mouthpiece says: " O believers, what ailed you, when you were told, 'Rush forth in the way of Allah,' that you were crushed to the earth? Do you prefer the life of this present world to that which is to come ? And what is the enjoyment of the life of this world compared to the life of that which is to come except a trifle? If you go not forth he will punish you severely, and put another people in your place. And you cannot hurt him, for he is almighty." Verse 41 of the same Sura urges complete devotion to the "way of the Lord," i.e., to making war upon non-Muslims and bring them to submission. I t reads: "Go forth, light and heavy, and struggle with your possessions and your lives in the way of the Lord. That is better for you." Sura 2, 1 8 6 - 1 8 8 ; 2, 212; 4, 76-79, 91, 105; 8, 60-62 are in the same vein. Thus the statements against idolaters, Jews, and Christians are not merely speculative and academic. They are to be carried out, and that vigorously, strenuously. They are to be put into practice because they are a part of Allah's will. To walk in this way of the Lord may be an expensive, difficult, and perilous business, requiring great sacrifices of labor, money, and life. iSio matter. Allah wills it so. And who will be lacking in eagerness to comply with Allah's will, when he reflects that a superabundant reward awaits the f a i t h f u l and self-sacrificing Muslim in the great beyond: Gardens traversed by brooks, f resh f r u i t in perennial supply, and clean spouses, Sura 2, 23, and passim. New all these instructions and directions with reference to the treatment of idolaters and people of the Book plainly belong to the missionary program of Islam and any presentation of the missionary teachings of the Qur'an should give room to the thoughts contained in the Qur'an verses quoted and enumerated.



It is evident, therefore, that the earlier conciliatory attitude towards Jews and Christians is abandoned by the prophet in Sura 9, 29-35. The best authorities hold that these verses were given out soon after the expedition to Tabuk, that is, 631. "These verses, concerned entirely with submission of Christian and Jewish communities, may be fairly taken as the final and deliberate opinion as to the future relation of Islam to these creeds and people," says Sell.11 Accordingly, war against other creeds has the sanction of religion placed on it in Islam. Not only pagans are to be attacked for no other reason than that they are pagans and not Muslims, but Christians and Jews also are to be brought, if possible, to a better mind by the application of force. They need not be the aggressors against Muslims. The mere fact that they do not acknowledge Allah and his messenger is sufficient warrant for an attack. If they refuse the offer of Islam, they must be humbled. It is certainly difficult to see that the "holy war, in the sense taught by the unanimous voice of the doctors of Islam is wholly unauthorized by the Qur'an." 12 Evidently the Qur'àn supplies all the materials needed for such a doctrine. Before concluding this section another phase of this matter must receive attention. It has been asserted freely and frequently and is still believed by many that the Qur'an confines its outlook to Arabia exclusively. We are told that whatever it has to say in criticism of other faiths limits itself to adherents of other religions found in Arabia. For this reason the procedure it prescribes against 11 Sell, E. Life of Muhammad. London, The Christian Literature Society for India, 1913, p. 213. 12 Arnold, J. W. The Preaching of Isiàm. Westminster, Arnold Constable & Co., 1896.



non-Muslims exhausts itself upon non-Muslims dwelling in the Arabian peninsula. Muhammad, it is claimed, conceived of himself simply and solely as the prophet of the Arabs. H e himself had no vision of an Islam that aspired to the dignity of a world-religion. Therefore, whatever later Islam may have believed and practiced in this regard is not chargeable to the Q u r a n , is not to be laid at Muhammad's door. Thus Muir contends that the notion that "the heritage of Islam is the world is an afterthought." 13 Caetani shares this view. Or rather, he contracts the outlook of the Qur'an still more. Muhammad, he maintains, did not look beyond Arabia, in fact, he confined his endeavors and ambitions to a very small portion of the peninsula. Had he aspired to greater things, he would have proceeded in a much more aggressive manner, once he had come to power. H e holds that so pretentious a program as "the world for Islam" would have been discussed in detail in the Qur'an, and the treatment of peoples refusing Islam would have been specified with detailed accuracy. After the seizure of Makka, Muhammad's policy was pacific and conciliatory. Barring a few insignificant exceptions, Muhammad's army was inactive. I n the Qur'an we do not find explicit indications about a mission to humanity or about world conquest. The principal allusion to the treatment of Jews, Christians, and the pagan tribes that had as yet not accepted the new order, is found in one of the last, if not the very last important revelation (Sura 9). But such allusions are brief and incomplete.14 is Muir, Sir Wm. Society, 1891.

The Caliphate.

London, The Religious Tract

14 Caetani, Leone. Principe de Teano. Annali Ulrico Hoepli, Vol. V, pp. 323-4.

dell' Islam.




But over against that view we urge the following considerations. There is no doubt that at the beginning of his career Muhammad, as is natural, confined himself in his missionary efforts to his immediate environment. Süra 26, 14 reflects this early state of affairs: "Warn thy near kindred." But after a short time we find this narrow horizon has widened considerably. I n Süra 6, 92 Muhammad says: "This book which we have sent down is blessed, corroborating that which was revealed previously, and that thou mayest warn the mother of cities (Makka), and those that live round about her." But at the same time there are indications even in the earlier Süras that Muhammad soon began to take a very general view of his mission. I n fact, no less an authority than Goldziher asserts that from the very beginning Muhammad's gaze was fixed on a considerably wider field than Makka, although his limited knowledge of geography would not permit him to conceive of the outlines of a world religion. 15 Muhammad's familiarity with geography may or may not have been very intimate. Certain it is that there can be hardly any mistaking the drift of many a Qur'än statement that points to ambitions of much greater extent than merely a limited section of the Arabian peninsula. Süra 21, 107 we read: "We sent thee only as a mercy (out of pity) for the whole world, lil-älamma. The Qur'än is repeatedly asserted to be a message for the whole world, Süra 38, 87; 68, 52; 81, 27—see also 12, 104; 36, 67 and 70; 25, 1; 61, 9. I n addition, Allah is over and over again called the "lord of the world," Süra 1, 1 and passim. To Allah belong heaven and earth, Süra 2, 256. Süra 30, 21 says: "And to our signs bei •< Goldziher, Ignaz. 1910, pp. 25, 26.



den Islam.




long the creation of heaven and earth and the differences of languages and colors (of human beings). Behold, these are truly signs for the world," lil-älamlna. The "world" of the Qur'än is most assuredly not a small fragment of the Arabian peninsula, but is the world, is humanity in its entirety. Furthermore, there is the significant statement of Süra 34, 27, which reads: "And we sent you as a bringer of good news and warner to all mankind," käffatan lil-näsi. And Siira 33, 40 informs us: "Muhammad is not the father of one of your men, but the messenger of Allah and the seal of the prophets," that is, the last of the prophets, bringing God's ultimate and final revelation, completing whatever might have been lacking in divine revelations vouchsafed before his coming. And when Muhammad had attained to power this conviction about the universality of Islam did not remain a mere theory. I n the words of Goldziher: " D i e Verbindungen, die er gegen Ende seiner Laufbahn mit auswaertigen Maechten anknuepfen will, sowie die durch ihn angeordneten Unternehmungen zeigen sein Streben ueber die Kreise des Arabismus hinaus. Seine Ziele erstrecken sich, nach einer Bemerkung iioeldekes, auf Gebiete, in denen er sicher war, den Ttomaeern als Feinden zu begegnen; der letzte der Zuege, den er seinen Kriegern anbefahl, war ein Einbruch in das byzantinische Eeich. Und die gleich nach seinem Tode unternommenen grossen Eroberungen, vollfuehrt von den besten Kennern seiner Absichten, sind sicherlich der beste Kommentar seines eigenen Willens." The opinion of another close student of Muhammad is also worthy of note. Tor Andrae says: "Als letztes Ergebnis der Entwickelung, zu der das prophetische Selbstbewusstsein Muhammads unter dem Einfluss seiner grossartigen



Erfolge gelangt ist, finden wir die Ueberzeugung, dass seine Sendung der ganzen Welt gelte, dass seine Eeligion dazu bestimmt sei, den Sieg ueber alle Keligionen davonzutragen und dass er selbst 'das Siegel der Propheten,' und der letzte und beste Prophet sei (Süra 83, 40), auf den es die ganze Entwickelung der Prophetie eigentlich abgesehen habe." 16 From the above it is plain that the Qur'ân looks upon itself as a message to the world. Therefore its statements, prescribing the treatment to be applied to those who refuse Islam do not limit themselves to Arabia. Moreover, they are clear and precise enough for general purposes. And the mere fact that these statements were made by the prophet in the later years of his life, are perhaps his very last statements with reference to this subject, so far from invalidating them or depressing them to a position of relative unimportance, rather help to make them finally and irrevocably binding. I t is altogether futile to point to Süra 2, 59: "Behold, Muslims, Jews, Christians, and Sabaeans,—whoever believes in Allah and the last day, and acts righteously, his reward is with his Lord, and no fear is upon him, neither will he mourn." This was spoken at a time when Muhammad hoped for recognition from Jews, Christians, Sabaeans. When they disappointed his expectations (Sura 2, 114: "The Jews and the Nazarenes will not be satisfied with you, unless you follow their religion"), he changed his mind. Furthermore, Muhammad himself teaches in the Qur'ân, Süra 2, 100: "Whatever verses (of the Qur'ân) we abolish or cause to be forgotten, we give better ones or similar ones for w Andrae, Tor. Die Person Muhammeds in Lehre und seiner Gemeinde. Stockholm, 1918, pp. 23, 24.




them. Do you not know that Allah has power over all things ?" The Practice



Muhammad, the messenger of Allah, met with little success in Makka. In that he resembled others who had proclaimed the supremacy and unity of Allah before him in that city. For the preaching of the unity of Allah there did not commence with Muhammad. Zaid ibn 'Amr ibn Nufail, a Hanif, or worshipper of the one, true God, preached the doctrine of the unity of God before Muhammad. "Sprenger says, 'Mohammad openly acknowledged Zaid as his precursor, and every word known as Zaid's we find again in the Qur'an.' For instance, Sura 3, 19 Mohammed is bidden to say to the common people, 'Have ye become Muslims?' or 'Have ye surrendered to God?' These words are said by Ibn Ishaq to have been addressed to the people by Zaid in the first place." 17 The Quraish, to whom Muhammad first addressed his preaching, had some knowledge of Allah and evidently regarded him as the supreme God. In performing the rite known as Ihlal they addressed Allah in the words: Labbaika, Allahumma! —We are present in Thy service, O Allah; thou hast no partners, except the partner of thy dread; thou ownest him and whatsoever he owneth." 18 Zaid insisted that he had attained to the religion of Abraham, meaning, that like Abraham he worshipped God alone and gave him no associates.19 I n one of his poems he prays to the Merci« S t . Clair Tisdall, W. The Original Sources of the Qur'an, London, p. 271. a s s t . Clair Tisdall. P . 36. 1 9 Ibn Hishara. Siratu-l-Sasul. Goettingen, Herausgegeben von F . Wuestenfeld, 1860, p. 144.



ful, his Lord, in order that He, the forgiving, may forgive his sin.20 Muhammad thought so well of Zaid that he permitted the Muslims to intercede for him, although he had not become a Muslim. 21 Moreover, Zaid as well as 'Ubaidullah, Waraqa, and 'Uthman, other teachers of the unity of God, were related to Muhammad. The two last-named were cousins of his first wife, Khadljah, as we learn from the genealogy given by Ibn Hisham. Evidently these precursors of Muhammad did not characterize themselves by the vehement insistence with which the prophet delivered his message. They were less strenuous in their opposition to the deities whose idols were set u p around the Ka'ba at Makka. These idols were very dear to the Quraish, so much so that at one time Muhammad himself thought that these idols might be retained as intercessors with Allah. The Quraish had promised to accept him as a genuine prophet if he would acknowledge the intercessory abilities of al-Lat, al-'Uzza, and Manat. The allurement of the offer was so dazzling to Muhammad, at least temporarily, that the prophet of Allah was inspired to declare that men ought to hope for the intercession of the deities mentioned. However, the following day the prophet recanted his lapse, blaming Satan for his error. 22 I t seems, therefore, that the Quraish would not have been hostile to Muhammad, would even accorded him the dignity of a prophet, as long as the influence of the other deities would have been conceded. But such a concession meant the overthrow of all of Muhammad's previous claims. Muhammad could succeed only by insisting on 20 Idem. P . 145. 21 Id. P . 145. 22 Sura 53, 19-22, I. 3, p. 1192.

Tabarl, Annates.

Rditit De Goeje.




the rejection of all other gods except Allah. For the corollary of, "There is no God but Allah," was, "Muhammad is his messenger." And in this particular Muhammad differed most decisively from other preachers of the unity of God at Makka. Muhammad was the sole and only mouthpiece of Allah and men must heed his every word under pain of eternal damnation. That is the point the Makkans would not concede. Because of his insistence on this particular the Makkans became his bitter enemies. But their fierce hatred could not coerce him into submission. Their biting sarcasms only provoked storms of oratory announcing the wrath to come. Yet all of this would have been unable to produce a mighty movement in history, such as Islam became. Indeed, if the Makkans had had their way, we would never have heard of Muhammad. Fearing that Muhammad's doctrine would gain too many adherents in Yathrib (Madina) and realizing that success for Muhammad would mean disaster for the prestige they enjoyed due to the fact that Makka was the center of worship for a large number of Arab tribes, the Quraish of Makka had resolved to settle their old grievance with Muhammad in summary fashion. They wanted to kill him. But Muhammad spoiled their design by timely and successful flight. Moreover, he had skilfully made the most of previous opportunities, so that in the hour of his greatest need the outcast of Makka was warmly welcomed at Madina. When the Jews and Arabs of Yathrib, or, as it came to be called later, Madina, because it became the city of the prophet, the former had much to say about a prophet of theirs who was about to arise. Xow some of the Makka pilgrims of Madina had listened to Muhammad



when he, according to his practice, tried to gain disciples for his teachings from among the pilgrims who visited Makka. These visitors from Madina persuaded themselves that he must be the prophet whom the Jews of their city were expecting. So they, in order not to be outdone by their Jewish clients, accepted him and returned to their city as propagandists for Islam. 23 Two years later seventy-three men and two women, converts from Madina, entered into a covenant with the prophet at Aqaba. Muhammad demanded that they protect him as they would protect their wives and their children. "I will war," declared the prophet, "on whom you make war, and keep peace with whom you keep peace." Incidentally, the compact was based on the rejection of idolatry, acceptance of Islam, and obedience to the will of the prophet.24 Thus Muhammad had wisely and effectively paved the way for the future. A band of faithful followers were under oathbound covenant to protect him with their lives, if need arose. For the first there was no other need than to provide lodging and sustenance for the exiled messenger of Allah. I t is very significant, however, that at the first opportunity presenting itself the messenger of Allah makes sure of physical protection for himself and pledges his newly-found helpers to defend his person and his cause with the edge of the sword. According to Ibn Hisham it was shortly after the conclusion of this compact with the believers from Madina that the revelation allowing Muhammad to use force in behalf of Allah and his cause came down.25 Up to that time the prophet's mission had 23 Ibn Hisham. 24 Ibn Hisham. 25 Ibn Hisham.

P. 286 seqq. Pp. 296, 297. Pp. 313, 314.



been "to call to Allah, to suffer wrong, and to turn away from unbelief." But now the messenger of Allah experienced a change of heart. Merely preaching profited but little. And here were these stalwart men of Madlna, ready to obey his every command. For whatever particulars of his message the prophet changed to suit changing circumstances, he never altered the great fundamental of his doctrine one iota, viz., that Allah made known his will through Muhammad, and Muhammad only. And this item of Muslim creed was readily accepted by his adherents from Madlna. No wonder the messenger of Allah rose to the occasion, declared the simple method of preaching and suffering inadequate and sanctioned the use of force in the defence of the new faith. Here was the beginning of the prophet-prince. This new attitude marks the beginning of the new Muhammad, no longer willing to entrust the issues of his mission to the bare proclamation of his message, but resorting to a new and very material argument to assist in spreading the faith, the argument of a strong arm and a trusty blade. A further step in the development of Muhammad into a prophet-prince is found in the charter drawn up about two years after his arrival in Madlna. "The charter of Muhammad, the prophet, between the believers of the Quraish and of Yathrib, and whosoever else joineth himself to them and striveth with them for the faith—verily, they are a peculiar people, apart from the rest of mankind." 26 Evidently Muhammad had not permitted the days of his sojourn in Madlna to go by unimproved. H e had succeeded in making himself not only theoretically, but also practically a prophet-prince. The prophet of Al26

Ibn Hisham.

P. 341.



lah had proclaimed the necessity of putting Allah's messenger at the head of both spiritual and temporal affairs. Indeed, by virtue of his divine mission he must needs have control over all matters, whether purely spiritual or sternly temporal. For he must have the power necessary to secure obedience to the commandments of Allah. Of course, the first to become acquainted with Muhammad in his new role were the wicked Makkans, who had made life such a burden to the prophet. For there was little value in having power and not using it to the advancement of the cause of Allah. The ruling ambition of the newly fledged prince is to make his old enemies feel the folly of their ways. For certain it is beyond doubt that he, and not the Makkans began hostilities. The permission of Allah, to use the sword in defence of the faith, readily accommodated itself to the purpose of Muhammad to punish his early adversaries. But Muhammad's activities against the Makkans had another objective. They were not only to be punished for their rejection of the prophet, they were also to solve his economic difficulties. In the long run the artificial fraternisation of 'Ansar, that is, helpers of Muhammad, such of the people of Madina who had been among the first to accept him, and Muhajirun, exiles from Makka who had found a haven of refuge in Madina and obtained the necessaries of life from their "brothers," the 'Ansar, could not be a permanent success. Hence we find the prophet of Allah ordering raids against the caravans of the Makkans. Such a raid it was that called forth the first battle of Islam against the unbelievers. The richly laden caravan of Abu Sufyan which Muhammad had hoped to capture escaped. But the Makkans, hastily summoned in defence



of the caravan by Abu Sufyan, continued on their way. The two forces met at Badr. Muhammad's little band carried the day. Muhammad had no doubt as to the religious significance of this timely success. H e declared that the punishment which he had prophesied against the Makkans had now overtaken them. Allah had vindicated his prophet by giving him victory over his enemies. Muhammad received one fifth of the booty gained. This divine judgment against the obdurate Makkans proved an argument of great weight in favor of the prophet with the Arab tribes. They had said: "Let Muhammad and his tribesmen fight each other. I f he wins he is a real prophet." Of course, this success at Badr was only a beginning. Yet, according to the measure of genuine prophethood adopted by the Arabs, it was an argument the force of which could not be gainsaid. H e was winning, he must be a genuine prophet. Let it be noted, then, that this enterprise had divine sanction and that it was, as Muhammad claimed, a proof of his divine mission. 27 The Makkans certainly had given no provocation for these attacks. But Muhammad was justifying his leadership with the edge of the sword.28 Let it be remembered in this connection that even on this occasion Makkans could have saved their lives by acknowledging Allah, that is, by acknowledging that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Failing to do this they must suffer the extreme penalty. The point is that Muhammad was making war in the interest of religion, his religion, and that peace was 27 Sura 8, 6 - 8 ; 12, 13. 28 Muhammad had made unsuccessful attempts on the caravans of the Makkans in the previous year. The prospect of booty, naturally, swelled the ranks of his followers.



for those who would submit to him. Under these conditions it is not hard to see that Muhammad was far removed from being tolerant. Such procedure is usually designated persecution. I t deserves that designation. Perhaps the opinion of his early converts at Madina that he was the prophet whom the Jews were expecting gave Muhammad the idea to present himself to their acceptance as the Messiah of their hopes. At any rate, he tried to convince the Jews of his mission. He appealed to their Scriptures in proof of his claims. H e adopted Jerusalem as the qibla towards which the faithful set their faces during prayer. He had his followers fast the fast of the Jews. Yet all his efforts to convert the Jews were labor lost. They failed utterly to see the light. Indeed, they greatly annoyed the prophet by exposing his profound ignorance of the Jewish Scriptures. They also had recourse to sarcasm.29 So the messenger of Allah, in order to maintain his prestige, was compelled to assume a different attitude towards them. Pertinent revelations were forthcoming to denounce their folly and their guilt. For as Baidhawi explains the statement of Sura 17, 107 ("we sent it down gradually, piece by piece"), the revelations came "according to circumstances." 30 The following quotations from the Qur'an show us what Muhammad thought of the Jews, after he had realised that they were not ready and easy mission material for his preaching. Sura 2, 98, 99 instructs the believers as follows: "O 29

Ibn Hisham. Pp. 351, 352. 30 Al-Baidhawi. Anwaru-l-Tanzil. Lipsiae, G. Vogel, 1846-8, p. 552. 31 A form of greeting in Arabic. The Jews changed a letter of the word, so that in their language it meant, "Our villain," an insult to Muhammad,



believers, say not, 'Ra'ina,' but rather, ' 'Unzurna,' 3 1 and obey; for the unbelievers will receive grievous punishment. The unbelievers among the people of the Book and the idolaters wish that nothing good be sent down from your Lord upon you. But Allah elects for his favors whomsoever he will." Sura 4, 48, 49 instructs the Muslims thus: "Among the Jews there are some who pervert the order of the words and say: 'We have heard and rebel,' 32 and, 'hear thou without perceiving and look upon us.' A twisting of the tongue it is and a slander of the true religion. And if they had said, 'We hear and obey, and hear thou and look upon us,' it would have been better for them. But Allah has cursed them, and only a few believe." Sura 5, 62 has this to say, "O believers, do not take as your friends such of the people of the Book who mock at and joke about your religion." I n the foregoing section attention was called to the fact that Muhammad charges the Jews with idolatry. He makes the same accusation in Sura 4, 54. Muhammad had evidently changed his mind about the Jews, at least about the Jews of Madina. Now the Jews of Madina, among them the Banu Qainuqa', the Banu-l-Nadhir, and the Banu Quraiza had a covenant with Muhammad to the effect that the Jews were to retain their religion and exercise it without interference or molestation. I n case anyone violated the pact, he was to be dealt with individually. H e would ruin only himself and the members of his house. Wellhausen says that unless the Jews of the Banu-l-Aws and Tha'laba are the Nadnir and the Quraiza, these two tribes did not enter into any agreement with Muhammad at the begin32 Instead of ' ' We have heard and obey.''



ning, about A.H. 2.33 Just what the terms of the covenant were which was later adopted by them is very difficult to say. The Qainuqa' however had accepted the early covenant made by Muhammad with the Jews. But, covenant or no covenant, occasion arose to quarrel with the Jews. The first to feel the weight of Muhammad's vengeance were the Qainuqa'. Sell relies upon al-Buhari to supply the reason for Muhammad's outburst against them. H e says that 'All, wishing to marry Fatima, Muhammad's daughter, intended to begin trading. Ilamza, Muhammad's uncle, seeing the camels of 'All standing ready to be loaded with the goods which some Qainuqa' merchants had promised to advance to the prospective trader, slew the animals and made a feast for his friends. It is stated that Ilamza was drunk when he committed this piece of rashness. 'All's loss was great, yet the marriage was much desired. A way out of the difficulty was found in quarreling with the Banu Qainuqa' and the means for setting up 'All in business were derived from the plunder taken from them. 34 But this is an unlikely story. I t does not agree with the accounts of the earlier historians of Islam. Waqidi, Ibn Hisham and Ibn Sa'd give the following account regarding the Qainuqa'. After the battle of Badr the Jews became jealous and broke the pact existing between them and the messenger of Allah. H e assembled them and addressed them as follows: "Assembled Jews, become Muslims. For you know full well that I am a messenger of Allah, since your Bible tells you so. Become Muslims, before Allah strikes you, as he struck the 33 Wellhausen, J. Skizzcn u. Vorarbeiten. Berlin, 1889, 4tes Heft, p. 75. 34 Sell, E. Life of Mohammad, pp. 126, 127.



Quraish." 35 The Jews refused his invitation to Islam and remained impassive to the threat of Allah's vengeance. They told him not to let his recent success deceive him, as he had dealt with people inexperienced in war. If he would attack them, he would soon perceive that he had never fought their equals before. This latter remark may simply be a recast of the general repute in which the Qainuqa' stood for bravery and warlike skill. While feeling was thus running high between the Muslims and the Qainuqa' a most deplorable incident occurred. An Arab woman, married to one of the 'Ansar came to the market place of the Qainuqa' to sell milk. Some of the men present at the time wanted her to unveil her face. In the meantime one of the Jews fastened the hem of her dress to her back, so that when she arose, she presented a spectacle. The woman screamed, as might be expected, while the Jews thought the matter a good joke and mocked her plight with wild peals of laughter. Some Muslims, learning of the indignity she had suffered, killed the offending Jew, and the brethren of the Jew in turn fell upon the Muslim who had despatched their brother. Muhammad now claimed to have reason for suspecting the Qainuqa' of treacherous designs against him and the Muslims. Hence the angel Gabriel, through whom Allah transmitted his revelations to his messenger, advised him that in case he Ibn Hisham relates that, according to Ibn ' Abbas, Muhammad addressed the words of Sura 3, 10. 11 to the Qainuqa' on this occasion : '' You shall be overcome and crammed into hell; a woeful abode it is. You have a sign in a clash between two bodies of men. One party fought in the way of Allah, the other was made up of unbelievers. Their eyes saw double the actual number of opponents, and Allah strengthens with his help whom he wills. Herein lies a warning for the sensible."



feared treachery in a people he was to pay them in kind, Süra 8, 60, a revelation which suited the circumstances to a nicety. On the strength of this divine revelation Muhammad now laid siege to the Qainuqä' who dwelt in a suburb of Madlna. The siege lasted fifteen days, when Allah threw terror into their hearts and they surrendered at discretion. Muhammad ordered them bound and would have executed them all. But Ibn Ubbay, their patron and leader of the Khazraj, seeing what Muhammad had in mind, laid hold of the prophet's collar and pleaded insistently that he spare their lives. The prophet's face was black with anger, but Ibn Ubbay did not release his hold nor abate his pleading that the prophet should not mow them all down on one morning, until the messenger of Allah yielded to Ibn Ubbay and spared the lives of the Qainuqä'. But he confiscated their property and exiled them to Syria.36 A point that is usually overlooked in this dreary affair is that, even if the hideous insult deserved punishment, the punishment should have been meted out to the guilty party or parties. According to the treaty, an offender was liable for his misdeeds as an individual, or at worst, his own house would have to expiate his crime. The same applies also with reference to the Jews who killed the Muslim that fell on the man who had such perverted ideas about a practical joke. But no effort was made by the prophet to deal with the guilty individuals. At least, no such attempt on the part of Allah's messenger has been recorded. 36 Ibn Hishäm, p. 545-7. Wäqidi. Kitäbu-1-Maghäzi. Edited by Alfred von Kremer. Calcutta, 1856, p. 173. Ibn Sa'd. Biographien Muhammeds, Seiner Gefährten und der Späteren Träger des Islams bis zum Jahre ZSO der Flucht. Band II, Theil I. Herausgegeben von Josef Horowitz, Leiden, 1909, pp. 19, 20.



It is urged in defence of Muhammad that, rightly considered, this and similar attacks on Jews should not he cited against him as examples of intolerance and persecution, because they do not belong to either of these categories. Wellhausen declares that these attacks were not made for the purpose of compelling the Jews to accept Islam, and that the famous dictum, "There shall be no compulsion in religion," was observed. Grimme writes: "Zum Kampfe gegen die christliche und juedische Religion hat der Prophet nie seine Glaeubigen angestachelt, weil er damit einen wichtigen Satz seines Dogmas umgestossen haette, die Annahme, dass alle geoffenbarten Religionen, einerlei ob sie von Moses, Jesus oder Mohammed verkuendigt sind, wahr und in Uebereinstimmung mit einander seien. Deshalb sind seine Judenfeldzuege nicht als Religionskriege, sondern als Racheakte fuer persoenliche Beleidigungen anzusehen." 37 Syed Ameer Ali would have us consider the following: "As a Prophet he could afford to ignore the revilings and the jibes of his enemies; but as the head of the State, 'the general in a time of almost continuous warfare,' when Medina was kept in a state of military defence and under a sort of military discipline, he could not overlook treachery. He was bound by his duty to his subjects to suppress a party that might have led, and almost did lead to the sack of the city by investing armies. The safety of the State required the proscription of the traitors, who were either sowing the seeds of sedition 38 within Medina or carrying information to the common enemy." 39 In the same connection he says 37 Grimme, Hubert. Mohammed. Münster, 1892, p. 124. 38 I.e., refusing to accept Muhammad and all his claims. 39 Ameer Ali, Syed. The Spirit of Islam. London, Christophers, p. 60.



that the Jews were enraged at Muhammad because they could not use him as their instrument for the conversion of Arabia to Judaism, that they libelled him and his followers, mispronounced words of the Qur'an so as to give them an offensive meaning, in short were a most dangerous element in the state which Muhammad had called into being. I f the reports of the early historians of Islam with reference to Muhammad's dealing with the Qainuqa' are only approximately correct, and there is reason to believe that they have, in the main, given a satisfactory account, then it is hard to see how the rule, "ISTo compulsion in religion," was observed in the case under consideration. Muhammad did put the Jews before the issue of Islam or war. With reference to the Banu Qainuqa' the historians explicitly state that Muhammad invited them to Islam and that upon their refusal to acknowledge him he committed his case to the decision of arms. Had the Jews agreed that their Scriptures did foretell his coming and that he was what he claimed to be, certainly Muhammad would not have proceeded against them. I f the threat of military force had resulted in conversion, yielding to this missionary method would have secured immunity. Moreover, in the case of the Qainuqa' there is hardly any motive for personal vengeance, as Grimme suggests. As for Syed Ameer Ali, one gets the impression that whatsoever Muhammad did was right and good merely because Muhammad did it, and that the Jews really should have submitted meekly to Muhammad's claims, that not to do so was sowing sedition, and that therefore Allah's messenger justly punished the refractory Jews. For that, unwillingness to submit to Muhammad in all his pretensions, whether as ruler of the



state or as founder of a religion, was really the crime of the Jews. Finally, let it be noted, that the messenger of Allah very conveniently gets the revelation that, in case he suspects treachery from any quarter, he has the right to proceed without delay and root out such treachery. 40 H e is the one to decide upon his mere personal and individual suspicion whether he must act against an individual or a number of persons and when he so decides, all is good and well. But that is insisting that Muhammad is infallibly right always. To take a different attitude amounts to opposing the messenger of Allah, is equivalent to rebellion against God's prophet, and merits summary punishment. Criticism of the prophet is rebellion against the divine will. Such criticism was extremely dangerous, as the Banu Qainuqa' learned from bitter experience. I n the year A.D. 625 the chief of the Banu 'Amir, Abu Bara', 41 came to Muhammad to investigate his teaching and requested him to send missionaries to his people. Abu Bara' himself was inclined to accept the faith Muhammad proposed to him, but decided to postpone his conversion until he learned what course his people would adopt towards the new faith. As the Banu 'Amir were allies of the Quraish Muhammad hesitated about complying with Abu Bara' 's request. However, promises assuring the safety of Muhammad's emissaries were given and the prophet resolved to make the most of this opportunity of doing mission wyork for Islam. H e sent forty, according to another report, seventy men, perhaps an unusually large number if nothing further than teaching was expected. When the Muslim missionaries arrived at their Sura 8, 60. « Ibn Hisham, p. 648.



destination they found that Abu Bara' was not among his people and that the reins of leadership were in the hands of 'Amir b. Tufail, an avowed enemy of Muhammad and his followers. All but two of the missionaries were treacherously slain. One of the two survivors, 'Amr b.' Umayya, 42 chanced upon two men of the Banu 'Amir while they were asleep and slew them. H e reported his feat to the prophet. But the latter was not edified by the news thus received, because the two men who had been slain were under his protection, a fact of which the slayer was ignorant. H e paid the required blood-money at once. But that was not the end of the matter. The Banii-l-Nadhir were bound to the Banu 'Amir by compact and covenant and Muhammad thought that they should pay at least part of the blood-money.43 When the prophet made known his object to the Banu-1-Nadhir they were willing at once to help him in the way he required. Moreover, they invited him to stay and share their repast with them. The prophet and his retinue were nothing loath to accept the hospitality offered and while awaiting the meal sat down, the prophet leaning his back against a house. The Jews, however, had treachery in their hearts. They soon perceived that a most remarkable opportunity to slay Muhammad and put an end to their troubles had arisen quite unexpectedly. I n fact, a Jew was on the very verge of tumbling a sizeable stone from the roof of the house against which the prophet leaned upon the unsuspecting messenger of Allah. But the murderous design of the Jews was frustrated by the intervention of Allah. A heavenly mes42 Ibn Hisham, p. 651. Waqidi, p. 353. « I b n Hisham, pp. 652 ff. Waqidi, p. 353. Ibn Sa'd, Vol. II, 1. pp. 41, 42.



senger made the prophet aware of his danger and he rose abruptly and departed hastily. The companions of the prophet had seen nothing amiss and waited for the prophet to return until they despaired of his re-appearance. So they also went back to the city. Then one of the Jews spoke up and declared that Muhammad was indeed the last of the prophets and that the Jewish Scriptures foretell his coming to a nicety, that it was the duty of the Jews to become Muslims and so be safe. When the companions of the prophet found their master iii Madina he told them that the Jews had plotted against him and that he had sent Muhammad b. Maslama to the Nadhir with the injunction to leave the country. 44 The emissary of Muhammad did as he was bidden, reminding the Jews of the prophecies they had made concerning the coming one and urging that Muhammad fulfilled these prophecies. I n ten days they must leave on account of their treachery against the messenger of Allah. Any member of their tribe found after that time would be beheaded. They said: " W e did not expect one of the 'Aws (the Arab tribe whose clients they had been before Muhammad set up his Muslim state) to tell us that." H e replied, "Hearts have changed," 45 that is, Islam automatically severs any previous ties and cancels all former obligations. The Jews foolishly relied on promises of help and resolved to oppose Muhammad. After he had besieged them about fifteen or twenty days, they surrendered upon assurance that they would be permitted to leave the country. Their land was apportioned among the refugees from Makka. I t is noteworthy that none of the prophet's companions « Waqidi, p. 354. 45 Waqidi, p. 354.



saw anything amiss while they were in the quarters of the Banu-l-Xadhir. There were several of them and it is very likely that one or another would have discovered that something was wrong. But they were quite ignorant of any untoward design being carried out against their master. Furthermore, the prophet himself did not see anything wrong. The historians do say that the Jews talked with one another privately. But even that seems to have aroused no suspicions either in the prophet or his followers. I t took a heavenly messenger to apprise Allah's messenger of the Jews' full purpose. Then, and only then, did he realise that his life was in imminent peril. At the same time there is enough material in the accounts of the early historians of Islam to show that the religious motive was active here also. There is the Jew who tells his tribesmen that Muhammad is indeed the promised one of their expectation and that the course of truth and wisdom lies in accepting him. I n other words, an opportunity to embrace Islam was given them. The same fact is urged by the messenger whom Muhammad sent to announce his sentence of exile. H e also urges that Muhammad is the prophet for whom they have been waiting and that they should accept him. These statements are valuable in showing that the religious element had much to do with Muhammad's decision to be rid of them. Sura 59, dealing with Muhammad's enterprise against the Banu-l-Eadhir, says: "If Allah had not written (decreed) exile against them, he would have punished them in this world,46 and in the next world their portion is the punishment of fire. That, because they have opposed Allah and his messenger. Be46

Ibn Hisham says that '' punishment in this world'' means death by the sword. Ibn Hisham, p. 654.



hold, Allah punishes severely." The word "oppose" does not necessarily mean armed resistance. I t may also mean "to disagree with one." If that is the case, then the disagreement means nothing more than refusal to accept Muhammad as prophet of Allah. If it be urged that the Jews did oppose the prophet after he told them to quit the country, that, it seems to us, only makes matters worse. Such a view relies upon the conviction that Muhammad had a divine right to order the Jews forth the land and that disobedience to his unreasonable order meant opposition to the will of God. Certainly the Jews did not oppose Muhammad in the matter of bloodwit. They were willing to pay. Furthermore, if they had really had designs on his life, if the fatal stone had all but proved fatal, it is not likely that they would have gotten off as leniently as they did, even after they refused obsequious obedience to Muhammad's tyrannical order of exile. Truth is, no doubt, that they opposed Muhammad in his claims and pretensions. For that Allah, that is, Muhammad, decreed exile against them. They furnish another instance of the negative missionary method of Muhammad, "Und bist du nicht willig so brauch' ich Gewalt." At the same time there was also a powerful element of political necessity in this case. Muhammad kept the entire booty taken from the exiled Jews for himself. He had instructions from Allah, sanctioning this procedure, Sura 59, 7. When Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Quraish, supported by an army of ten thousand warriors (A.D. 627), set his face towards Madina to hold conclusive reckoning with the prophet for his many misdeeds,47 a Persian adherent " Ibn Hisham says, some of the exiled Nadhlrites instigated this expedition. Ibn Hisham, p. 669.



of Islam, Salman by name, very fortunately counselled the prophet not to try issues with so formidable a force in the open field, but to remain behind the security of breastworks, a mode of warfare quite unknown to the Arabs. Muhammad saw the wisdom of this advice and acted upon it. The Jewish tribe of the Banu Quraiza, who were on good terms with the prophet at that time, readily loaned spades, pick-axes, and baskets to the Muslims on the request of the prophet.48 Now while the siege was in progress, so the historians relate, Huyyay, one of the banished Nadhirites, came to Ka'b b. 'Asad, the leader of the Quraiza, to urge him into treachery against Muhammad. Ka'b would not even admit Huyyay to his house. However, when Huyyay taunted him with miserliness, charging that Ka'b refused him admission merely because he begrudged him the little food he might eat, the latter yielded. After much arguing back and forth, Ka'b was induced to break the covenant with Muhammad, tearing up the charter given them by the prophet.49 Muhammad, who somehow got wind of this transaction, sent messengers to the Quraiza for the purpose of ascertaining what had happened. Put to task about the covenant of the prophet the Jews declared: "Who is the messenger of Allah? There is neither covenant nor agreement between us and Muhammad." Upon hearing this utterance of the Jews Muhammad sounded the Takblr and bade the Muslims rejoice.50 In addition to the above damaging testimony against the Jews the historians tell us that the Quraiza were carrying on negotiations with Wellhausen, Muhammed in Medina, p. 192. « I b n Hisham, pp. 674-5. 50 Ibn Hisham, p. 675.



Abu Sufyan, that they promised to help against the Muslims if the Quraish would give them hostages, or, as another tradition has it, that the Quraish demanded hostages from the Jews in order to commit them against Muhammad, that the Jews refused aid at the critical moment because they would not fight on the Sabbath, that on one occasion eleven Jewish warriors undertook a nocturnal raid against a certain part of the city. But no considerable effort was undertaken by the Jews against Muhammad. They could not make up their minds to help Abu Sufyan and his warriors, who were rapidly learning that their task was hopeless. On the morning of the 25th of April, A.D. 627, the besiegers broke camp and returned to Makka. And the prophet gave thanks to Allah for so signally espousing his cause. H e went to the house of 'A'isa, resolved to allow himself the rest he needed so much after the strenuous days of the siege. But his plans were frustrated by Allah. While engaged in washing his head, Muhammad was surprised by the apparition of the angel Gabriel, gorgeously arrayed and mounted on a splendidly caparisoned mule. 51 "Have you already doffed your armor, O messenger of Allah? The angels have not. Behold, Allah commands you to proceed at once against the Banu Quraiza. I am bound for their quarters myself, to shake up their fortresses." Thus spoke the angel Gabriel to the messenger of Allah. At least, so say the historians. But whether the angel Gabriel appeared or not—some of the Muslims mistook the angel Gabriel whom Muhammad had recognized so readily for one of Muhammad's warriors—certain it is that Muhammad commanded the Muslims to proceed for the quarters si Ibn Hisham, p. 684 ff.; Waqidi, 371 ff.; Ibn Sa'd, II, 1. p. 53 ff.



of the Banu Quraiza at once. None of the Muslims should dare to say the afternoon prayer in any other place but before the fortress of the Quraiza. Needless to say, the Muslims did with alacrity what the messenger of Allah commanded. Thus began the siege of the Quraiza. I t lasted fifteen days. Huyvay, the X ad hi rite, who had promised to share the fate of the Quraiza and kept his promise, proposed three courses as open to the besieged Jews. The first wTas, to become Muslims. The Jews refused. The second, to kill their wives and their children and fight to the death. This plan too was rejected. The third was, to undertake a surprise attack on the Sabbath. But religious scruples vetoed that proposal. A messenger of Muhammad convinced the Jews that they must surrender at discretion and by a significant gesture gave them to understand what fate was awaiting them. When the Jews surrendered, overcome by starvation, they asked that the Banu 'Aws, whose clients they had been, intercede for them with the prophet. The result of their intercession was that Muhammad chose Sa'd b. Mu'adh, who had been wounded in the recent defence of the city, to decide the fate of the Jews. Sa'd was very angry with the Jews because they had not helped the Muslims against the Qurajsh. The selection of Sa'd as judge of the fate of the Jews plainly shows the prophet's mind. Nor did Sa'd fail to measure up to his master's expectations. Realising that he would succumb to his wounds he was anxious to perform a work of piety that would help his soul in the great beyond. He advised that all over whom the razor had passed, that is, all the men, be put to the sword and that the women and children be sold into slavery. Muhammad assured the grim warrior that his verdict was that of



Allah in the seventh heaven. The prophet had trenches dug in the market place and sat by, looking on, while from six hundred to eight hundred men were being beheaded. The women and children were sold as slaves. I t is, no doubt, difficult to determine precisely the guilt both of Muhammad and of the Jews in this affair. Muir justly remarks: " I have much hesitation in determining what the compact was at this time existing between Mohammed and the Quraiza, and what part the Quraiza actually took in assisting the allies. The evidence is altogether ex parte, and is, of course, as adverse to the Jews as possible." Sprenger's opinion is: "Ich zweifle nicht, dass das Benehmen der Banu Koraytza (bei der Belagerung von Medina) sehr zweideutig war. I n der Haltung der Banu Koraytza erblickten die Moslime Gefahr, aber ein offener Treubruch liegt nicht vor." 52 I t is, no doubt, more than probable that, if the besiegers had scored some success against the Muslims, the Quraiza would have rendered them assistance. As for the story of Huyyay's intrigue and Ka'b's treachery, one is disposed to ask, how the Muslims could have known with such accuracy of detail what had transpired in an apparently clandestine meeting between the two. Then there is the pointed statement of the Jews to the messenger of Muhammad that they had neither pact nor agreement with Muhammad. Evidently the Jews believed that whatever agreement existed between them and the Muslims did not apply to a situation such as was then confronting the adherents of Allah. Indeed, the Muslim historians are not clear on this point. According to some, the Jews had pledged themselves to 52

Sprenger, Aloys. Das Lehen und die Lehre des Mohammad. Berlin, 1869, Vol. III, p. 215, note.



nothing further than that they would not help Muhammad's enemies, according to others, they were bound to resist an attack on Madlna. Ibn Sa'd says that at that time there was between Muhammad and the Banu Quraiza " a precarious compact," evidently meaning one that had not sufficient stringency to make their assistance obligatory. The accounts dealing with Ka'b's surrender to Huyyay persistence show that really only Ka'b offended in tearing up the treaty with Muhammad, since the other Jews abundantly reprobated his folly, 53 a circumstance which should have exempted the rest of the Jews from Muhammad's vengeance. Of somewhat different aspect is the charge of intrigues undertaken by the Jews with Muhammad's enemies. But here too it must be borne in mind that the evidence is altogether ex parte. I f these clandestine dealings had really been carried on, it is strange indeed that the t r e a c h e r y and plotting of the Jews is not merely given as sufficient warrant for the enterprise against them. That, however, is not the case. The historians say that upon the retreat of the besieging forces Muhammad went home, laid aside his armor, and began to wash his head, having no further thought of warlike exertion for the time being. The Quraiza indeed expected the prophet to turn his arms against them now that the peril of the siege was over. But the prophet evidently had other plans. I t took none less than the angel Gabriel to rouse the prophet to action against the Jews. So the siege of the Quraiza was undertaken because Allah ordered it. And Allah does not charge the Quraiza with flagrant violation of their treaty, but modestly limits himself to the accusation that they had 33 Wellhausen, Mutiammed

in Medina,

p. 197,



"assisted the allies," disdaining to condescend to detail and particular. Syed Ameer Ali would have us understand that this exploit against the Quraiza was indispensable to the peace and safety of Muhammad and his adherents and to the success of his cause. "But the victory was hardly achieved in the opinion of the Moslims as long as the Bani-Kuraiza remained so near, in such dangerous proximity to the city of Islam. They had proved themselves traitors in spite of their sworn allegiance, and had at one time almost surprised Medina from their side—an event which, if successful, would have involved the general massacre of the faithful. The Moslems therefore felt it their duty to demand an explanation of their treachery. This was doggedly refused. The consequence was that the Jews were besieged, and compelled to surrender at discretion. The number of men could not have been more than two hundred or two hundred and fifty." 54 The surprise attack of which this writer speaks was undertaken by eleven men, that is, if it was undertaken at all. They could hardly have done much damage. As a matter of fact, they were ignominiously chased back home by vigilant Muslims. The historians say that from six hundred to eight hundred men were put to the sword. And if there were but two hundred men of the Banu Quraiza, it is hard to see how such a small band could be so dangerous, especially when an army of ten thousand men could not take Madina. But then, this writer also gravely informs us that "even now, Christian America burns alive a Christian negro marrying a Christian white woman!" 55 Xo wonder that other facts are exaggerated by him beyond all semblance of recognition. Ameer Ali, Syed.

ss Id. p. 219.

The Spirit

of Islam.

London, pp. 79, 80.



But while it is difficult to determine guilt and fix blame, there is no trouble about the final event. Muhammad made himself guilty of a hideous atrocity, and that without much provocation that might be alleged in palliation of this execrable deed. Let it not be overlooked that the Quraiza would have been safe, had they heeded Huyyay's advice to become Muslims. I n that event Muhammad's display of force against them would have been regarded by the messenger of Allah as a splendid missionary method achieving excellent results. Since the Jews would not yield, they must die. And thus Muhammad was relieved of the thorn that had been galling his side. His authority in Madina was now safely established through the removal of those who had so seriously annoyed him through their unbelief and their criticism. More, these violent measures helped him greatly to realise his schemes by the wealth which they netted him. Since the troublesome Jews had been disposed of in the fashion stated, Muhammad was in undisputed control at Madina. He thought the time ripe for a move that would help very considerably in winning over many Arabs to his claims and his cause. He had already abandoned Jerusalem as the qibla of the faithful, the point to which they turned while performing their prayers, and had substituted the month of Ramadhan for Tishri as the month of fasting. Moreover, the signal failure of the Quraish to take Madina, capture the prophet, and ruin his cause irretrievably, had not been without effect upon some of the pagan Arab tribes. Muhammad's continued success was ample and incontrovertible proof of his divine mission. And now the prophet made a strategic and telling move. The tribes of Arabia still regarded Makka with its Ka'ba



as their religious center. Muhammad fell in with this conviction of theirs and resolved to show his own opinion about this ineradicable belief of the Arabs in a most satisfactory manner. He decided to make the lesser pilgrimage to the Ka'ba.56 This was in A.D. 628. No doubt the prophet himself had considerable reverence for the holy place of his native people, and perhaps it is unfair to credit his pilgrimage to shrewd and calculating policy exclusively. His followers felt much more than the prophet the urge to re-visit the holy places from which allegiance to Muhammad's cause had barred them for about six years. To allay any anxiety that might be felt by the Makkans as to the integrity of his purpose he set out with no more than fifteen hundred men, armed only with a sword. But even so the Makkans were not convinced of the prophet's singleness of heart. They flew to arms at the news of his coming, prepared to demonstrate with vigor that the prophet would not achieve his aim. But this time the prophet had set out on an errand of peace and was not minded to be drawn from his purpose. So he evaded the possibility of encounter with the Makkans by turning aside to ITudaibiya, situated on the border of the sacred territory. Yet, if the prophet failed, to the great mortification of his pious warriors, to enter the holy place of his and his companions' desire, this undertaking of his was profitable in another direction. He succeeded in concluding a ten-year truce with the Makkans, an achievement that must have been welcome enough to those of his followers who came from Makka, and doubly so to the Makkans, as it guaranteed the safety of their future business ventures. 56 Ibn Hisham, p. 740.



One of the terms agreed upon in the truce was that Muhammad and his followers were granted permission to enter Makka and remain there for three days during the next pilgrimage. It is noteworthy that the Makkans were quite willing to have the truce begin with "In the name of Allah," but protested strenuously and successfully against the epithets which Muhammad joined to the divine name, "the compassionate, the merciful." Evidently they believed in Allah, but evidently, also, they "gave him associates." The same unbending stubbornness with which they opposed the Muhammadan attributes of Allah they brought to bear against the distinctive claims of Muhammad. They would not write into the truce the formula: "Muhammad, the messenger of Allah." The prophet had to content himself with the less pretentious designation of "the son of 'Abdulla" as identifying him as one of the parties to the truce.57 But while it may seem to us that in spite of this resistance to the prophet's claims and plans this pious enterprise netted very appreciable results for the messenger of Allah, the Muslims did not view the matter in that light. They were deeply disappointed. They had hoped so fervently for the realisation of their pious longing, that they were disappointed beyond measure and most thoroughly depressed when they found that they must needs defer the fulfilment of their ardent hope till the next year. In addition to this cause of discontent there seems to have been another, and that, one of most immediate and most emphatic appeal. Caetani 58 refers to a tradition preserved by al-Buhari which says that when the prophet returned sTlbn Hisham, p. 747. as Annali



Vol. 2. 1, p. 10,



to Madina from his frustrated pilgrimage, 'A'isa declared that if the Muslims would go to Khaibar, all the faithful would have dates. I n other words, there was a painful shortage of food. Whether this tradition reflects facts or whether it is without foundation in fact, is hard to say. However, the silence of Ibn Hisham, Waqidi, and Ibn Sa'd as to a valid reason for the attack on Khaibar apparently enough argue somewhat in favor of this tradition. 59 Yet, on the other hand, it must needs be pointed out that the likeliest motive for the expedition against Khaibar was the disappointment of Muhammad's followers over their failure to enter Makka. Their drooping spirits needed reviving. Now it is evident that nothing would have so refreshing an effect on their failing spirits as the acquisition of booty, especially if food happened to be scarce at Madina. And though the historians can find no special justification for the adventure, the messenger of Allah found ample warrant for the expedition, if BaidhawT's note on Sura 48, 20, which promises the Muslims rich booty, is correct.60 For he says that these words refer to Khaibar. Caetani says with reference to Khaibar: " I t is certain that Muhammad decided to attack and destroy the Hebrew community solely for reasons of political expediency, not for any particular offence on its part. I t was an act of arbitrary aggression which the Muslim historians have never been at any pains to justify. Their silence on this matter is most eloquent." 61 But let us not forget that this piece of political expediency was executed 59 Ibn Hisham, p. 755, ff.; Wellhausen, Muhammed in Medina, p. 290; Ibn Sa'd, II, 1. p. 77 S. Lipsiae, 1846-8, p. 129. 00 Baidhawi. Anwaru-l-taneil. 01 Annali dbU' Islam, Vol. 2, 1., p. 9.



at the behest of the messenger of Allah. H e summoned his faithful ones forth into this particular "way of Allah." The order to proceed against Khaibar was a divine command, given by a prophet who communicated to his followers Allah's will, announced by a prophet whose will must be implicitly and unquestioningly obeyed by faithful Muslims intent upon their souls' salvation. I t makes very little difference in the end whether we assume that hunger drove Muhammad to publishing the oracles which evoked this raid, or whether the pronouncement that set the Muslim army into motion on this occasion was the result of the all too apparent dissatisfaction and disappointment of Muhammad's followers, or whether both of these causes combined led to the assault. I n any case, it was an instance of fighting in the way of Allah. According to Ibn Sa'd, Muhammad distinctly commanded that they only who were eager for the Jihad should participate in this raid. 62 The enterprise was to be undertaken with genuine religious enthusiasm. H e adds that this expedition was very painful to the Jews still remaining in Madlna. Yet, it seems, they had learned the wisdom of not criticising the commands which Muhammad received from Allah, even though these commands summoned the faithful into action against their people. To 'All, who was standardbearer at Khaibar, Muhammad said: "Fight against them, until they confess that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger. If they do this they save their blood and their possessions." 63 Evidently the attack took the Jews completely by surprise, for the morning after the arrival of the Muslim forces the field laborers of «2 Ibn Sa'd, Vol. II, 1, p. 77. 63 Ibn Sa'd, Vol. II, 1, p. 80.



Khaibar went out to their daily tasks, quite unaware of any hostile move afoot against them, a circumstance which goes to show that no hostilities were expected. As in his previous undertakings against the Jews, so in this instance also, Muhammad was thoroughly successful. At first he intended to drive the Jews of Khaibar out of Arabia, but he revised his opinion and the Jews stayed. I t almost seems as if this revised opinion were a sterner punishment than exile. Had they gone into exile they would have been permitted to carry off their possessions with the exception of their silver and gold. However, some of the Jews tried to hide some of their treasures from the prophet. They failed and paid the penalty for their folly. Then the prophet gave order that they should remain in Khaibar and that half the produce of the soil should belong to the Muslims. Another tradition says that a further condition was added, namely, that they were to remain on their land at the discretion of the prophet, or rather, as long as Allah willed it. 64 I t has been said that this latter condition is plainly an ex eventu dictum of Allah's messenger. 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, it is argued, drove the Jews of Khaibar out. I n order to give this act of his the highest possible sanction, pious devotion invented this clause of the treaty. One cannot deny that this may have been the case. Nevertheless, it is not the only solution that suggests itself. After all, what were the Jews to do, if Muhammad forbade them to leave their homes and informed them that half the produce of the soil was to be paid to the Muslims ? Also, what effective resistance could they muster to compel a revision of the terms imposed, " I b n Sa'd, 1. c.

65 Ibn Hisham, p. 779.



even though they might be as precarious and uncertain as the historians relate ? I n any case, the whole affair is bad enough. I t must have been, if even Muslim historians could devise no justification for it. The occasion of the expedition against Muta, A.II. 8., was the wanton murder of a messenger Muhammad had sent to the king of Bostra-Shurahbil b. 'Amr, the Ghassanide, seized and slew the prophet's envoy at Muta'. 66 No other messenger of Muhammad had ever met a like fate. Indignant over the outrage the prophet dispatched an army of three thousand men under Zaid b. Harith against Muta. He instructed Zaid to invite the enemies to Islam. If they refused the invitation to the true faith they must pay jizya. If they found that alternative unacceptable, Zaid must proceed to fight them. When the army reached Mu'an in Syria, the Muslims learned to their consternation that Heraclius had assembled an army of one hundred thousand men to crush them. Nearly every soldier of the Muslim army lost heart at these tidings. They thought it advisable to inform Muhammad of the unexpected situation and to await his orders. But Abdallah b. Rawah took the fearful Muslims to task very sharply. They were loath, he stormed, to endure the martyrdom they had gone forth to seek. They ought to bear in mind that their strength lay not in numbers or power, but in the religion with which Allah had honored them. Therefore they should go forward either to victory or to martyrdom. I t turned out to be defeat and martyrdom. For when the Muslims met the enemy's forces, composed of Romans, that is, Byzantines, and Arabs, they were severely beaten. «6 Ibn Hisham, p. 791 if.; Wellhausen, Muhammed in Medina, p.

309 ff.; Ibn Sa'd, II, 1, pp. 92-95.



On their return to Madlna the disappointed and angry faithful threw dust into the faces of the vanquished warriors and accused them of fleeing "in the way of Allah." Among the slain was the leader of the expedition, Zaid b. Harith. Muir says with reference to Muta: "Tidings of the approach of this formidable army (3000 men) reached Shurahbil, who summoned to his assistance all the tribes of the vicinity. The hostile incursions which Mohammed had from time to time directed against the Syrian border, the repeated attacks on Duma, the conquest of Kheibar, and his generally aggressive attitude toward the north, had no doubt led to the precautionary measures of alliance among the people of the frontier." While the murder of Muhammad's messenger was ill-advised, Shurahbil and his allies evidently knew that the prophet had missionary plans that would sooner or later have to be faced by the candidates for his missionary zeal. I t is, in any case, interesting to note that the messenger of Allah instructs Zaid first of all to offer Islam to the enemies he is to attack. Whether these offers were made in sincerity and good faith, or whether they were merely a formula to be absolved before commencing hostilities does not greatly alter the final estimate of the enterprise. Certain it is that if Shurahbil and his allies had accepted Islam, or had agreed to pay jizya, there would have been no bloodshed. Moreover, it cannot be denied that the messenger of Allah would have been thoroughly gratified if these enemies of Islam had come into the fold of Islam, even if "conversion" had come as a result of the application of armed force. I n A.D. 631 Muhammad undertook another expedition



against the Komans, that is, the Byzantines. This was the expedition to Tabuk. The Nabataeans who made a practice of bringing oil and flour to market in Madina this year also brought the news that Heraclius had assembled a very large army and that he had stored up provisions for this army sufficient for a year. Muhammad promptly and zealously summoned the faithful to make ready for the way of Allah. Contrary to his practice, Muhammad even published the destination of this expedition. I t seems, however, that spite the prophet's zeal, response to his ringing appeals was not as whole-hearted as it might have been. The weather was stiflingly hot and many of the Muslims were loath to exchange what little comfort they had at home for the frightfulness of the desert. But Muhammad was determined to have his way. When word reached him that certain people were assembled in the house of Suwailam, a Jew, fomenting plans to spread discontent among the people generally, he immediately sent Talha b. 'Ubaydallah and had him burn the house to the ground. 67 At length an army of 30,000 men was assembled and Muhammad ventured forth against the army of Heraclius, anxious to have the Byzantines become acquainted with the prowess of warriors fighting in the way of Allah. But when the Muslim forces reached Tabuk they found no emperor and no army to oppose them. The Nabataeans had their story about the emperor and his vast army by hearsay and had merely passed it on. Incidentally Muhammad's expedition to Tabuk did not remain entirely barren of results. While Ukaidir of Duma, son of 'Abd al Malik, the king of the Kinda, and a Ibn Hisham, p. 893. To those who complained of the heat Muhammad said, " T h e fire of Gehenna is h o t t e r " Sura 9, 82).



Christian, was on his housetop one evening, enjoying the peace and beauty of a moonlight night in the company of his wife and several songstresses, the queen saw two wild oxen rubbing their horns against the castle gate.68 The king, who was a great hunter, at once set out together with one of his brothers to give chase to this game. He was quite unaware of the fact that Muhammad had dispatched Khalid with 420 warriors against him. Khalid captured both hunters with ease. The brother of Ukaidir resisted and was slain. Ukaidir was brought before the prophet, who imposed the following terms : Duma should be opened to the prophet and jizya in the shape of one thousand camels, eight hundred head of cattle, four hundred armors and four hundred lances should be paid. Sell says that Khalid promised the Christian prince his life, if he accepted Islam, but he had to give up his fortresses, his arms and horses, as well as his unoccupied lands. Since the prince had not taken up arms, nor in any way interfered with the Muslims, this must be regarded as a clear case of conversion by the sword.69 Such was not the case, however, for Ukaidir agreed to pay jizya, which proves that he did not accept Islam. Had he become a Muslim, he would have been safe in his person and his possessions. No doubt Khalid offered Islam to Ukaidir's acceptance, but the Christian refused the offer. Hence his losses.™ 68 Ibn Hisham, p. 903, Balàdhuri, Futuhu-1-Buldàn. Edidit M. J. de Goeje. Leiden, 1866, pp. 62-63. 69 Sell, E. Life of Muhammad. London, The Christian Literature Society for India, 1913, p. 208. 70 Balàdhuri gives two versions about Ukaidir, one to the effect that he became a Muslim, the other that he remained a Christian and agreed to pay jizya. Upon the death of the prophet Ukaidir refused to pay the tax, thus violating the covenant. Khalid, at Aim



Another Christian prince, John of Aila, 71 also received a treaty from the prophet. It seems he came voluntarily, having learned wisdom from Ukaidir's experience.72 H e too agreed to pay jizya, as did also the inhabitants of Jarba and Azruh. Thus the prophet was acting according to the principle laid down by Allah in the ninth Sura. These people had not offended against Islam in any other way than in not being Muslims. However, this difference of faith was sufficient warrant for an attack. They could save themselves from the humiliation and inconvenience of jizya by renouncing their faith and embracing Islam in its stead. Let it be noted, then, that the messenger of Allah applies this missionary method not only to Jews living in and around Madina, but also to Christians living at a great distance, in this case, fifteen nights' travel from Madma. I n the year 10 A.H. fourteen chief men of Najrân, heeding the invitation of Muhammad to become Muslims or come to terms, repaired to Madina. 73 On reaching the city of the prophet they entered the mosque. But Muhammad would not speak to them. 'Uthmàn told them, the prophet was displeased with their clothing, for they were Bakr's behest, proceeded against Ukaidir and killed him, because he was an apostate. Balâdhurï, pp. 62, 63. The tradition that Ukaidir became a Muslim is repeated in Al-Nawawï. But the other tradition is also prominently mentioned. "Ukaidir was a Christian, and when the prophet had given him a treaty, he returned to his fortress and stayed there. Then Khâlid, in the time of Abu Bakr, the Sadiq, besieged him and killed him, polytheist Christian that he was, because he had broken his covenant. He withheld that which he had agreed to pay. ' ' Al-Nawawi. G-oettingen, 1842, p. 162. Ibn Hishàm, p. 912. Wellhausen, Muhammed in Medina, p. 405. ' 3 Ibn Sa'd in Wellhausen, Jul. Slcizzen und Vorarbeiten. Berlin, 4tes Heft. Arabic text, pp. 8, 26, 76. Balâdhurï, pp. 64, 65.



attired in silk. The following morning they returned to the prophet, this time clad in monastic garb. Their salutation did not remain unanswered, as on the day previous. The prophet at once invited them to embrace Islam. They refused to comply.74 Much talk and abundant argument ensued. Finally the prophet made a queer proposal, that is, queer for a prophet. He spoke on this wise: "If ye deny that which I say unto you, come, let us curse each other." Sura 3 preserves this strange proposition and also tells us something about the instruction Muhammad gave these emissaries from iiajran. "Behold, Jesus is like Adam. Allah created him out of dust. Then he said to him, 'Be,' and he was. This is the truth of thy Lord. Therefore doubt not. And to him who argues with you about it, although true knowledge has come to you, say: 'Come on, let us call our sons and your sons, and our wives and your wives, and ourselves and yourselves, and then let us implore Allah and let us put the curse of Allah on the liars. Behold, this is a true record, and there is no God but Allah, and truly, Allah is the mighty, the wise. But if they turn away, behold, Allah knows the evildoers. Say, 'O people of the Book, let us come to an agreement that we serve Allah and place no one beside him as an equal, and let none of us take other lords beside Allah.' But if they turn away, say: 'Bear witness that we are Muslims (i.e., worshippers of the true God), O people of the Book. Why do you dispute about Abrai* They said, they had been Muslims before the prophet had accepted Islam. The prophet gave them the lie, for, besides eating pork and worshipping the cross, they ascribed a Son to Allah. The question of the Christians, "Who then is Jesus' Father?" is answered for them by the prophet in the Qur'an quotation given above.



ham, seeing that the Thorah and the Gospel were not sent down until after his time? Have you no understanding? Be content to argue about the things that you know. Why will you argue about matters that you know not in the least ? Allah knows, whereas you do not know. Abraham was neither Jew nor Christian. He was a Hanif (of pure, genuine faith), a Muslim, and not one who gives associates to Allah.' " The deputies from N a j r a n were not impressed by the theological demonstrations of Allah's messenger. They also refused Muhammad's invitation to a cursing contest and elected to abide in their ancestral faith. So the prophet gave them a pact, guaranteeing that no bishop was to be removed from his bishopric, no monk from his monastery, no priest from his priesthood. Their authority and their rights were to remain uncurtailed. None of their customs was to be changed. Their churches and their crosses were to be undisturbed. All these privileges would be theirs as long as they conducted themselves righteously. A special prohibition of usury was written into the pact, according to Ibn Sa'd. "And whosoever takes usury from now on, for him my protection is void." 75 The same writer adds the further stipulation, "Until Allah comes with his command." However, it is said, these conditions may be later additions, added to justify 'Umar's expulsion of the Christians of Najran during his caliphate. The tribute they had to pay annually consisted of the following items: Two thousand suits of clothing, each worth an ounce of gold, thirty cuirasses, thirty lances, thirty camels, thirty horses. There can be no question as to the genuineness of the treaty, since 'IJmar had to justify his expulsion of these Christians and since Abu 75 Ibn Sa'd, p. 26.



Bakr renewed the treaty, which he certainly could not have done, had there been no treaty. 76 A little space must now be given to the consideration of the prophet's request to the Chosroes, the Emperor, the Negus, the Muqawqas of Egypt, and the Ghassanide prince to renounce their faith and embrace Islam. 77 According to Ibn Ilisham, 78 the prophet sent messengers from amongst his companions to the kings and wrote to them, inviting them to Islam. After his frustrated pilgrimage he came to his followers and said: "Behold, Allah has sent me as a mercy, and my mission is to all. Do not you disagree as did the disciples of Jesus." Asked to be more specific, he replied that Jesus had purposed to do with his disciples the same that Muhammad had in mind with reference to his followers. However, when Jesus sent one of his disciples into an adjacent country, the disciple war well pleased. But when a disciple was commissioned to go into a far country, his face fell. Then Jesus prayed to Allah and on the next morning every one of them spoke the language of the country to which he was assigned. So the messenger of Allah sent messengers and a letter to the kings and called them to Islam. But this story finds little favor with modern scholars. Wellhausen says: "Erdichtet sind auch zwar nicht die Botschaften aber die Briefe an den Kaiser, den Kisra, den Ghassaniden, den ISTagus, und den Muqauqis." 7 9 Vacca contends that the embassies never took place, but that they were invented to prove that these sovereigns had 76 Ibn Sa'd, p. 77. " Ibn 8a'd, Wellhausen, pp. 1 - 3 ; A1 Hakam, Futuh Misr. by Charles Torrey, New Haven, 1922, pp. 45-47. '8 Ibn Hisham, p. 971. 79 Wellhausen, STcizzen u. Vorarbeiten, IV, p. 90.




been invited to Islam, that some of them had rejected the invitation, thus showing, in a certain sense, their hostility to Islam, while others, for instance the emperor Heraclius, had accepted the call of Allah's messenger, albeit only secretly, and for this reason had become vassals of the prophet. 80 Of course, if one holds that the messenger of Allah contented himself with being a prophet to the Arabs, and to the Arabs only, one must logically deny that Muhammad ever thought of gaining adherents for his religion from among other peoples. But if we are content to accept certain plain Qur'än passages as faithful expressions of the prophet's conception regarding the scope of his mission, we are under no necessity of finding it strange or impossible that Muhammad would invite the potentates mentioned to the acceptance of Islam. Muhammad had by this time come to regard himself as the "seal of the prophets" 81 and preached that his mission was to the entire human race. Wäqidi has a tradition to the effect that Muhammad said on one occasion, " I am sent to all mankind, while every other prophet had a commission to his own people only." 82 Then, there is the record of the prophet's promise made to his followers during the siege of Abü Sufyän and his confederates. "Die Heuchler fuehrten das grosse Wort. Mu 'attib b. Qushair sagte: ' E r verspricht uns die Schaetze Kosru's und des Kaisers, und dabei kann niemand von uns in Sicherheit seine Notdurft verrichten.' Das war nach Calix b. Ga 'far von Ibn Ka'b die Antwort auf eine Prophezeiung, die Muhammed damals tat, um den Mut der Seinen zu soVacca, V. Bivista degli Studi Orientali, Vol. X, p. 106. si Süra 33, 40. 82 Wellhausen, Muhammed in Mediria, p. 405.



heben." Again, on the way to Tabuk Muhammad told Bilal that Allah had given him two treasures, the Persian and the Roman empire. 83 How firmly Muhammad held the conviction that these two empires must succumb to Islam is further evidenced by the tradition which relates that even on his deathbed the prophet urged undertaking the expedition against the Byzantines. 84 Muir calls attention to the fact that "the ordinary copy of the letter to Heraclius contains a passage from the Coran which, as shown by Weil, was not given forth till the ninth year of the Hegira." 85 But that argument is in itself not of sufficient force to prove that the letters are false and worthless.86 Moreover, other facts of the prophet's life that rest upon no more evidence than these embassies can allege for substantiation are accepted without question. And if one believes, as does Wellhausen, that the embassies actually took place, it ought not to be difficult to believe that these embassies also carried an invitation to Islam to their respective destinations, although the letters which have been preserved "are of very doubtful genuineness and the stories told regarding their reception by those to whom they were addressed are manifest fables." 87 Thus we have in this grandiose gesture of the prophet another, and a by no means despicable, proof of his universal out8:1 Wellhausen, Muharnmed in Medina, p. 398. 84 Id., p. 387. 85 Muir, Life of Mohammed, p. 383, note. 8« A text of the prophet's letter to the Muqawqas is found in the Journal Asiatique of 1854, p. 482 ff., in an article by M. Belin. The letter ends with Sura 3, 57. It is possible that this word of the prophet was first used in his letters and later embodied in the Qur 'an. 87 Bell, Bichard. The Origin of Islam, in its Christian, Environment. London, Macmillan & Co., p. 112.



look. His field is the world. That Muhammad regarded the matter in this light is evidenced by the suggestion made to the prophet of Madina by a competitor in the prophetic dignity, Musailama, of the Banu Hanifa. H e proposed to halve the world between Muhammad and himself. But Muhammad did not think well of the scheme. H e wanted the world for himself and was not minded to share it with anyone.88 Muhammad could not forget the defeat which the Christian Arabs and the Greeks had inflicted on his forces in the expedition to Mu'ta. The prophet-prince was thirsting for revenge. So he sent 'Usama the son of Zaid to the place where his father had been killed in action.89 'Usama intended to take Ubna by surprise. Another Muslim, Buraida by name, asked 'Usama whether a surprise attack were not contrary to the prophet's orders. The usual procedure was first to invite the enemies to accept Islam, or, refusing that, to pay jizya. 'Usama replied that Muhammad had indeed commanded Zaid to offer Islam to the enemy before entering upon actual hostilities, but that in this instance the prophet had given orders to proceed without such formalities, to surprise the enemy, if possible, and then to let fire and sword do their work in ruthless fashion. Now while this expedition was not carried out in the lifetime of the prophet, as the prophet died before 'Usama could perform the task imposed on him by the messenger of Allah, it is interesting to observe that the rule for such expeditions of the faithful in the interest of the faith was to give the enemy—and an enemy was as Tabari, I, 4. pp. 1737, 1749. as Wellhausen, Muhammed in Medma, pp. 92, 136.

p. 433.

Ibn Sa'd, II, 1.



any non-Muslim, as for instance, the case of Ukaidir plainly shows—an opportunity to become a Muslim and be safe. In other words, an integral part of Muhammad's missionary program was to regard a non-Muslim as ready and welcome mission material for Islam. But the message of the superior and final faith of Islam was not brought to the non-Muslim by a lone missionary who did nothing more than preach his message and await results. I t was brought by an armed force, sent forth at the command of Allah and instructed to punish those refusing to submit to the rule of Islam, if they would not accept all the wide claims of Allah's messenger. As for the procedure observed toward pagan Arabs, the work of 'All in Yaman may serve as example. He was sent against the Madhij. As an introductory measure he took their women and children, and cattle as spoil. Then he gathered together whom he could and invited them to embrace the faith. When they refused he fought them, until he killed twenty of their number. Then he proposed Islam to the rest once more and they hastily accepted the faith which spared their lives.90 Such, then, was the practice of Muhammad. In judging him we must not apply the standards of the twentieth century. Muhammad was as tolerant towards the people of the Book as the people of the Book were tolerant toward each other. Certain it is that he was uncompromising toward the pagan Arabs, once he had sufficient power to assume such an attitude towards them. Certain it is that he was needlessly harsh in his treatment of the Jews of Madina and Khaibar. But the former caused him much so Ibn Sa'd. II, 1. p. 122. The prophet used extraordinary mildness towards them, because he wanted to win them for Islam.



trouble and vexation of spirit by their persistent and trenchant criticism of his exalted claims. We must not overlook that the Jews who learned wisdom from the painful experiences of their co-religionists were not further molested. I t is likely that they all would have remained unmolested, if they had not roused his ire, but meekly submitted to the inevitable. Muhammad did not know enough about tolerance to permit anyone to differ with him openly and aggressively. But we must also remember that Muhammad, at least in his later years, regarded difference of religion as sufficient cause for attack. To proceed in this manner against people of another faith was good and wise because Muhammad's God told him to adopt such a course of action. However, once the prophet had given a treaty, the people to whom the pact was given were not further molested, but were left to exercise the religion of their preference. I n this respect Muhammad was tolerant enough. He had done the will of Allah by calling them to Islam and, when people of the Book foolishly refused the light of Islam, had humbled them and made them pay jizya.



ARNOLD says: " I t is not in the cruelties of the persecutor or the fury of the fanatic that we should look for the evidence of the missionary spirit of Islam, any more than in the exploits of that mythical personage, the Muslim warrior with sword in one hand and Qur'an in the other." 1 He enlarges on this statement in the added note which reads: "This misinterpretation of the Muslim wars of conquest has arisen from the assumption that wars waged for the extension of Muslim domination over the lands of unbelievers that the aim in view was their conversion. Goldziher has well pointed out this distinction in his Vorlesungen ueber den Islam: 'Was Muhammed zunaechst in seinem eigenen arabischen Umkreise getan, das hinterlaesst er als Testament fuer die Zukunft seiner Gemeinde: Bekaempfung der Unglaeubigen, die Ausbreitung nicht so sehr des Glaubens als seiner Machtsphaere, die Machtsphaere Allahs ist. E s ist dabei den Kaempfern des Islams zunaechst nicht so sehr um Bekehrung, als Unterwerfung der Unglaeubigen zu tun.' " Again: "These stupendous conquests which laid the foundations of the Arab empire, were certainly not the outcome of a holy war, waged for the propagation of Islam, but they were followed by such vast defection from i Arnold, T . W.


of Islam, p. 5.




the Christian faith that this result has often been supposed to have been their aim. Thus the sword came to be looked upon by Christian historians as the instrument of Muslim propaganda, and in the light of the success attributed to it the evidences of the genuine missionary activity of Islam were obscured. But the spirit which animated the invading hosts of Arabs who poured over the confines of the Byzantine and Persian empires, was no proselytizing zeal for the conversion of souls. On the contrary, religious interests appear to have entered but little into the consciousness of the protagonists of the Arab armies. This expansion of the Arab race is more rightly envisaged as the migration of a vigorous and energetic people driven by hunger and want, to leave their inhospitable deserts and overrun the richer lands of their more fortunate neighbors." 2 Arnold here reproduces, as he states, the views of Caetani. I t is no doubt true that many of the followers of the prophet who gladly flew to arms at the bidding of the caliphs had but little, if any, religious zeal. These early wars were to the majority of Arabs splendid opportunities to enrich themselves. I t is also true that many defections from the Christian faith to Islam were not the immediate result of force, of military pressure. Nevertheless, in a certain sense these wars were "holy wars." They were undertaken because commanded by Allah through his messenger. Islam is a theocracy. Allah personifies the authority of the state. The army and the public institutions are named after Allah. Allah's executive, however, was the prophet. H e alone knew Allah's will. The prophet was not only the preacher of the truth, but also 2 Arnold, Preaching

of Islam,

p. 46.



the only lawful sovereign on earth. Allah operates in and through all parts of the Muslim community. The administration of justice and the prosecution of war were functions equally as holy as public worship. The truth of these remarks is felt by Arnold, who in the following once more reproduces the opinion of Caetani. Arnold writes: "Still the unifying principle of the movement was the theocracy established in Medina, and the organisation of the new state proceeded from the devoted companions of Muhammad, the faithful depositaries of his teaching, whose moral weight and enthusiasm kept Islam alive as the official religion, despite the indifference of those Arabs who gave it a mere nominal adherence." 3 But this is admitting that the inspiration of those early campaigns of Islam, as far as the real and sincere Muslims were concerned, was, after all, religious enthusiasm. Certainly Abu Bakr and 'IJinar were actuated by religious motives. They knew that the messenger of Allah had said that Islam was to be preached to all, that they who did not accept it were to be humbled, but that the people they attacked should first be given an opportunity to accept the new faith. Thus these early campaigns cannot be absolved entirely from the censure that is justly given missionary endeavors of this sort. True, there was much other missionary endeavor also. But that is not to the point at present. The fact remains that Islam had inherited from its founder the task of winning the world for Muhammad's faith, and not only for the extension of Muslim power. If the attacked chose to refuse the faith of the prophet and such refusal resulted in an enhancement of Allah's power and dominion here on earth, the Muslim state re3

Arnold, Preaching

of Islam,

p. 47.



joiced over the advantage thus secured. Yet, devout Muslims rejoiced more over gains for the faith of Muhammad than over the treasures of the life of this world secured in military campaigns. Abu Bakr If Muhammad closed his eyes on a subjugated and outwardly loyal Arabia, his successor, Abu Bakr, faced a very different state of affairs. Shortly before his death Muhammad had managed with adroitness acquired through practice to have 'Aswad, a rival prophet, put out of the way, so that "his affair stood as it was before," so that Yaman was again loyal.4 But when the prophet's death became known, the Arabs fell away and rebellion waxed strong, one people imitating the behavior of the other. 5 I n Yaman rebellion broke out afresh. 6 I n the middle portion of the peninsula Musailama was successful in inciting the tribes around Yamama to revolt.7 I n the north-east Tulai.ha of the Banu 'Asad did not plead long nor in vain with his tribesmen for withdrawal from their allegiance to Allah and Islam. 8 But Muhammad had said on his deathbed, "There shall not be two creeds in the peninsula." Such a statement from the prophet need occasion no surprise. I t agrees thoroughly with his own practice and precepts. And Abu Bakr was not minded to brook rebellion and unbelief. Upon assuming the caliphate he had said: "The truthful is trusted, the liar suspected, the * Tabari, 3 Tabari, s Tabari, i Tabari, » Tabari,

I, I, I, I, I,

4, p. 1798. 4, p. 1871. 4, p. 1983. 4, pp. 1795, 1797, 1781. 4, p. 1871.



weak among you is strong with me, until I have secured justice for him, and the strong, weak, until I have exacted justice from him. A people does not abandon the holy war (Jihad) but Allah smites that people with vileness, and profligacy does not spread among a people but Allah gives them over to disaster. Obey me as you obeyed Allah and his messenger. If I have disobeyed Allah and his messenger, let me have no obedience from you. Rise for prayer, that Allah may have mercy on you." 9 And the most urgent matter confronting the new caliph was the restoration of Islam among the revolted tribes. That was the will of Allah that must be done immediately. Neglecting it meant incurring the painful displeasure of Allah. Hence the caliph addressed himself to this most immediate need without delay. H e wrote to the revolted tribes as follows: We will treat as an unbeliever whoever rejects Allah and Muhammad, and we will make holy war upon him. I have sent So-and-so with an army and have given him orders to fight no one and kill no one, until he calls the people to prayer. Whoever obeys will not be troubled. But whoever refuses will be treated as an enemy. For such there is only the sword and fire and indiscriminate slaughter. Their women and children will be made prisoners. To obey is the better course. The disobedient will not foil Allah. 10 Thus it would not be Abu Bakr's fault if the Muslims did not fight in the way of Allah and forestall the possibility of incurring Allah's wrath for remissness in this item. I t is well known that Abu Bakr succeeded in the course of a year in forcing the rebellious back into the fold. Musailama, the same ® Ibn Hisham, p. 1014. 10 Tabari, I, 4, pp. 1883-84.



rival prophet, who had proposed dividing the world into two equal parts, leaving one for Muhammad and retaining the other for himself, was killed in the battle of 'Aqraba. Khalid put to certain adherents of Musailama whom he had made prisoners the question, "O Banu Hanifa, what say you?" They answered, "You have a prophet, and we have a prophet." H e put them to the sword.11 Defeated in battle, Tulaiha fled to Syria and accepted Islam after the Ghatafan had returned to the Muslim household of faith. When he performed the pilgrimage, Abu Bakr was told that his former enemy was in the neighborhood of Madina. The caliph refused to raise a hand against him and commanded that he should not be molested. When 'Umar was caliph, Tulaiha appeared to make his submission. 'Umar received him with sour mien and told him that because he had killed two certain Muslims, he would never love him. Tulaiha replied that 'Umar should not trouble himself about two men whom Allah had honored by his, Tulaiha's hand, that he should rather consider that Allah did not cause him to weep by their hand. Then the caliph received his allegiance.12 The religious argument proved too strong to be resisted. The two Muslims whom Tulaiha had slain had become noble martyrs. Had Tulaiha been slain, he would have perished in his misdeeds. How serious the Muslims were about re-establishing the true faith among the unfaithful tribes may be gathered from the treatment accorded to two poetesses of Yaman, one of whom had used her talents to satirise the messenger of Allah, while the other, under the inspiration of a less 11 Tabari, I, 4, pp. 1939-40. 12 Tabari, I, 4, p. 1898.



pretentious muse, had published verses making f u n of the Muslims. Both had to suffer a severe penalty. Muhajir, Abu Bakr's general, had both of them deprived of a hand and an incisor. Abu Bakr, upon learning of his general's zeal, informed him that the lady who had reviled the prophet, had not been punished adequately. I f Muhajir had not been beforehand, he would have given orders for her execution. "For the penalty for an offence against the prophet is not to be the same as the punishment meted out to one who ridicules a mere Muslim. H e is a rebel, or, if a client, an enemy and a traitor." As for the other lady, the caliph's verdict was that, if she were a Muslim, she should be punished severely. But if the offender were a dhimmi, 13 the idolatry which they commit and which Muslims tolerate in them is a graver offence than ridiculing the Muslims. Had he punished her as fiercely as did his general, he would have considered himself liable to just reproach. 14 These utterances of Abu Bakr throw a favorable light on the first caliph. It is easy enough to understand that satirising the prophet would be regarded as a heinous offence by pious Muslims, especially so shortly after his death. At the same time, we must not overlook the tolerant attitude taken with reference to dhimmis who were guilty of turning their wit to use against Muslims. For the meaning of the caliph's words about them is this: Since we permit dhimmis to commit the sin of giving associates to Allah, provided they remain otherwise within the limit of the pact which grants them tolerance, since we can endure their practicing idolatry, 15 a few jokes at is Member of one of the protected cults. " Tabarl, I, 4, pp. 2014, 2015. 15 According to Sura 5, 76, Christians are idolaters.



our expense are a mere trifle compared to their great sin of idolatry. Hence, such inconsiderate, yet harmless behavior on the part of dhimmis ought not to provoke such violent punishment. In a word, such an offence should not he punished at all. For the greater offence, idolatry, goes unpunished. As already stated, Abu Bakr had informed the faithful that, unless they fought in the way of Allah, they would forfeit Allah's favor. Evidently he was thoroughly convinced that Allah would reject the Muslims forevermore, if they did not prosecute the pious task of fighting in the way of Allah with becoming zeal and vigor. For, "when he had disposed of the affair with the apostates, he resolved to send armies into Syria. Accordingly he wrote to Muslims everywhere to prepare for Jihad, not forgetting to call attention to the wealth of the Greeks as a stimulous to their energy and devotion." 16 An item facilitating the invasion of Palestine was the refusal of the Emperor, who just at this time happened to be in great financial straits, to pay certain Arab tribes their annual subsidies, in consideration of which they were to protect the frontiers. The famished Arab hordes, disappointed and angered by this ill-timed economy of the Emperor, cast themselves into the arms of their fellownationals and so paved the way for an easy invasion of Syria by the Muslims." De Goeje asserts that Abu Bakr invaded Syria for three reasons, namely, Muhammad's program to spread Islam among all the Arabs, Muhammad's desire that Islam rule the world, and the refusal of the Chosroes and the Emperor to accept Islam.1" 16 BaladhuTl, p. 107. i ' Caetani, Annali, 2.2, p. 1112, quoting Theophanes. is Caetani, Annali, 2.2, p. 1110.



Caetani denies every one of De Goeje's contentions. The Beduins, he writes, had but little understanding of the Muslim theocracy and for that reason could not be animated by zeal to sacrifice their lives for it. Furthermore, Muhammad had no plans for world conquest, in fact, had left no program at all for the future development and expansion of Islam. H e contends that even Abu Bakr did not at first purpose the conquest of Syria. H e calls attention to a statement of al Ya'qubi, which says that Abu Bakr contemplated nothing more than a raid on Syria, and, hence, he could not have contemplated a complete conquest of that province. The Arabs regarded Syria as the paradise of the earth. For that reason they coveted it. The real objective of Khalid's incursion into 'Iraq was Syria, which the Arabs wanted to possess for the reason given above. The invasion of Persia was of secondary importance, Syria was the real goal, therefore all expeditions met there. 18 Muhammad's views on Islam as a world religion as well as his pretentious program for conquest have already been given above and need not be repeated here. I t is evident also that one isolated witness regarding Abu Bakr is not sufficient to cause the setting aside of the entire bulk of testimony to the contrary. For these reasons the opinion of De Goeje seems to us to reflect the facts in the case. As Baladhuri states, once the apostatized tribes had been brought back into the fold, the way was open for other military enterprises and Abu Bakr was not long in finding suitable and congenial employment for his Muslims warriors, 20 many of whom, no doubt, had little underCaetani, Armali, 2.2, p. 1118. 20 Baladhuri, p. 107.



standing for anything else beside the material advantages accruing to them from participation in these raids. So he sent forth the Muslims armies into 'Iraq and Syria, where the Muslims came into conflict with Christian Arabs. What complications an attack on these Arabs would provoke was thoroughly understood by the Muslims even before the prophet's death. One part of these Arab tribes owed allegiance to the Chosroes of Persia, the other was allied to the Byzantine Emperor. I t is futile to suppose that a man of Abu Bakr's character and insight did not realise in any degree just what bearing such invasions would have. On the contrary, in undertaking the struggle for the expansion of Islam against these tribes Abu Bakr plainly manifested his intention to launch Islam upon a career of world conquest with the ultimate object of world dominion for Islam. And the combat thus undertaken was in a measure inspired and sustained by religious motives. When Abu Bakr sent Khalid into 'Iraq, he did so, "that the sword of Allah might again be unsheathed," 21 that is, that the domain of Allah might be extended not only by the addition of territory and the increase of revenue, but also by augmenting the number of Muslims. And unless we must abandon the testimony of early Arab historians as entirely unreliable and worthless, unless we find in all their testimony merely the reflections and adjustments of a later age, skilful propaganda for the recognition of newly converted Muslims as of equal value with Muslims of long standing, and that at a time when there was really no adequate motive for such propaganda, we find enough of the missionary spirit of Islam, eager, determined, aggressive, in these early campaigns to uphold 21 Muir. The Caliphate, Third Edition, London, p. 50.



the contention that the only aim and goal of these sanguinary military enterprises was not only the extension of the secular power of Islam, but was also, in great part, a vast effort for increasing the number of believers in Allah and his messenger. For world dominion of Islam becomes a fatuous dream and a futile aspiration without a continuous increase in the number of believers. An empire, such as Islam, a theocracy, relying for its preservation on military power, needed fighting men for its maintenance and extension. But the general rule of Islam was that only the arm of a believer was worthy to wield the sword in the cause of Allah. Hence we find that Islam, embarking upon its career of conquest, does not lose sight of the missionary element, and that, as part of its program of conquest. Moreover, when non-Muslims refused the offer of Islam, provided they were people of the Book, they were compelled to endure political discrimination on account of their religious preferences and convictions. To assert that they were obliged to face the grim issue of Islam or the sword is neglecting the truth. But they did have to decide between Islam and political equality with the Muslims on the one hand and an inferior position in the theocracy of Muhammad's founding as the price for the right to worship as they felt conscience-bound to do, on the other. In other words, early Islam almost unvaryingly visited a penalty upon those who for conscience's sake did not embrace the faith of the prophet. Yet, while this is undoubtedly true, it must needs be observed that, all things considered, the penalty thus inflicted was not unduly harsh nor offensively burdensome. In the early days of Islam there was little of wildly fanatical zeal and the dhimmis



were permitted to live their lives much the same as before they had come under Muslim rule, as long as they remained within the limits put upon them by their conquerors. I n addition to all this, Muslim rule guaranteed the protection of dhimmis against aggression in consideration of their loyalty and obedience. A few examples from the history of early Muslim conquest will, no doubt, exemplify the above statements. When Khalid, "the Sword of Allah," in the course of his campaign in 'Iraq reached Hira, he proposed three methods of procedure against them. They might accept Islam and be safe. Refusing Islam, they had the opportunity of accepting Muslim rule and paying jizya. Should they decline both these propositions, he would proceed to make war upon them. But Hira was well fortified and the people of the town evidently were in no hurry to let Khalid know what they intended to do. I t was futile to tinto carry the town by storm. So Khalid ravaged the surrounding country, not sparing the monasteries of the vicinity. This latter measure induced the priests and the monks to urge the inhabitants of Hira to yield to the inevitable, which they did. They informed the Muslim general that they would not enter into his religion, although in that case, as he had promised, their privileges would the same as the rest of the Muslims, but that they would pay jizya. Khalid was greatly vexed at their choice. Since they were Arabs, he was very desirous of having them in the fold of Islam and warned them that unbelief, in this case, Christianity, is a trackless desert and berated them for their folly in preferring a non-Arab to an Arab as their guide. But the people of Ilira refused to abandon their faith. The terms arranged were;




100,000 dirhams as jizya, the people of Hlra retain their churches and their fort, they agree to act as spies for the Arabs against the Persians. 22 According to Baladhurl there were at that time about six thousand men in Hlra. The same writer states that Hims had to pay 170,000 dinars, that they were to keep their churches, but that one part of the church of St. John was to be used as a mosque.23 Determined opposition to the invaders was punished with unusual severity, a procedure followed, by the way, not only by Muslims when angered by stubborn opposition. At 'Am al-Tamr, a fortress on the border of the desert, Persian troops, supported by Arabs, refused the terms of Khálid. They were obliged to surrender at discretion. Khálid had their leaders beheaded in front of the city wall and gave orders for the execution of every adult male of the enemy forces. The women and children were sacrificed to the lust and greed of the soldiers. Forty youths had taken refuge in a near-by church, barring the door against the enemy, after all a futile precaution. Their lives were spared, since they were "students of the gospel," and they were distributed among the leaders of Khálid's army. They were not permitted to retain their faith. They had to accept the faith of the prophet. Two prominent men of Islam were descended from two of these unwilling converts to the religion of Allah, Ibn Isihaq, the historian, and Müsa, conqueror of Spain. 24 An incident illustrating the manner in which prominent 22 Tabari, I, 4, pp. 2019, 20, 2039, 2041. 23 Baladhurl, p. 131. 2< Tabari, I, 4, pp. 2092-94.




Muslims of this time regarded the campaigns against the partes infidelium undertaken under the caliphate of Abu Bakr is the one recorded about 'Amr ibn al-'Asi, whom the prophet had appointed governor of 'Uman. Abu Bakr wrote to him that he did not want to take him from a. position of honor and influence to which he had been advanced by the prophet of Allah himself. Yet, if 'Amr did not object, he, Abu Bakr, would give him a position higher and more important than the one he occupied at present. Amr replied: " I am one of the arrows of Islam, and thou, after Allah, the marksman, who gathers them and shoots them at the enemy. Choose the strongest, hardest, best, and use them as you see fit." 25 Now such remarks seem to indicate that the wars waged by Muslims were holy wars. They were, according to the belief of these stern heroes of Islam, Allah's business. They were the way of Allah, in which a believer must exert himself to give proof of the depth and sincerity of his belief. Plainly, Muhammad had not preached and labored in vain. To Ilonnuz, the satrap of the Delta, Khalid wrote: "Become a Muslim and thou art safe. Otherwise, take a dhimmi's covenant and pay jizya. If you refuse these terms, you will have none but yourself to blame for what happens. For I am come against you with a people that loves death as you love life." 26 One cannot fail to find a religious consideration, a missionary element in these statements. Acceptance of the faith insured safety. Refusal to accept the faith brought punishment. Such procedure is right and good because it is the way of Allah. Of like tenor and import is the letter this general wrote Tabari, I, 4, p. 2082. Tabari, I, 4, p. 2022.



to Ma da'in. ''Whoever prays our prayer, accepts our qibla, and eats our sacrifice, the same is a Muslim, sharing our privileges and shouldering our duties. When our letter reaches you, send pledges and receive the pact of dhimmis. Otherwise, by him beside whom there is no other God, I will send upon you a people that loves death as you love life." 27 'Umar Ibn al-Khattab Before the battle of Qadisiyya Yezdegerd was given an opportunity to become a Muslim. He was told that Allah had sent a messenger to the Arabs and that this messenger at Allah's behest had promised them the goods of this world and of the next. They had all come to realise the grace that Allah had bestowed on them in giving them Muhammad through the evident and palpable results achieved up till now. They were but following the prophet's command in attacking the Persians. Hence they invited him to the faith, before proceeding to hostilities. If he would accept the faith, there would be no bloodshed. But if he refused to accept the faith there remained only the alternative of jizya or the sword.28 In an interview between Eustam and al-Mughira and other Arab spokesmen the following words, or statements of this effect are supposed to have been exchanged. Eustam said: " I have learned that you are forced to undertake this war through poverty. I will give you money and goods if you will leave the country." He also remarked that ere this the Arabs had been weak, wasting the little 27 Tabari, I, 4, p. 2020. 28 Tabari, I, 4, pp. 2239^0.



strength they had in fighting each other. The Arab spokesmen replied that it was not a case of scanty food obtained through rigorous toil with them. Allah had sent them a prophet and through following him they were made prosperous. Their prophet had ordered them to fight against those of another faith than Islam, until they pay jizya and are humbled. Moreover, Allah had promised them that they were destined to rule over all that would not accept their faith. Thus Rustam must realise that if he will not become a Muslim or if he refuses to pay jizya, he will have to fight.29 A f t e r a siege of seventy days, or, according to Baladhuri, of four months, Damascus fell into Muslim hands. The vigilant Khalid, who neither slept nor let sleep, was greatly helped in his endeavors to take Damascus by the bishop of the city, who had 110 scruples about assisting the besiegers because the Muslim general promised exceedingly f a i r terms for the city in consideration of the bishop's generous aid, which took the form of supplies for the invading army. Also, the same church dignitary informed the ever ready Khalid of a great celebration to be held on a certain night by the inhabitants of Damascus. So it happened that while the city was given over to revelry, Khalid, instructed by the bishop how to get into the city, took the feasting populace by surprise and succeeded in his enterprise. 30 Caetani remarks that the bishop spared his townsmen much suffering and secured very favorable terms. 31 B e that as it may, the terms obtained were f a i r in every respect. The people 29

Tabari, I, 5, pp. 2267, 2284; Baladhuri, pp. 256. 7. Tabari, I, 4, p. 2152; Baladhuri, p. 121, 2. st CaPtani, AnmUs. 3 \ p. 364. 30



were not molested. Their churches remained in their possession. Their houses were not taken from them. The walls of the city were not torn down. Nothing is said about compelling the people to surrender half of their churches and abandoning half of their houses to the conquerors. However, when Damascus was invested by the Muslim army, many of its inhabitants fled to Heraclius, who was at Antioch at the time. The dwellings thus vacated by the adherents of the Emperor were occupied by the Muslims. 32 The poll tax, which at first had been a dinar per every able-bodied male, was later changed by 'Umar ibn alKhattab to four dinars per head for those who had gold and forty dirhams per head for those who had silver, a measure which means nothing else than that 'Umar graduated the tax according to the wealth of tlie individual. 33 I n addition to this, the people of Syria and the Peninsula had to pay monthly two modii of wheat and three qists of oil and an unspecified amount of grease and honey for every Muslim soldier.34 I t is usually said that the basilica of St. John, the most beautiful Christian church in Syria, was equally divided between Muslims and Christians and that the adherents of both cults worshipped in it for a number of years. The case of the church at Hims has already been cited. Gottheil quotes two other instances of the same kind, one at al-Anbar, the other at Cordova.35 These well-attested cases suffice to prove that such divisions were actually 32 Baladhuri, p. 123. 33 Baladhuri, p. 124; Al-Hakam, p. 152. 34 Baladhun, p. 125. 35 Gottheil, Kiehard J. H. Dhimmw and Moslems cago University Press, p. 335.

in Kpypt.




made. However, it is doubtful in the extreme whether a similar arrangement, obtained in Damascus regarding the cathedral of St. John. Baladhurf says that Mu'awiya ibn-abi-Sufyan wanted to add the church of St. John to the mosque. The Christians objected and the caliph desisted from his purpose. 'Abd-al-Malik ibn-Marwan sought in his day to add it to the mosque, offering the Christians money for their church, but they refused his offer. Al-Walid ibn-'Abd al-Malik tore down the church and "made it enter into" the mosque. Upon the complaint of the Christians ' (J mar ibn 'Abd-al-Aziz ordered that that part of the church which had been added to the mosque should be restored to the Christians. 30 "And there was at the side of the mosque a church which had remained in Christian hands, the which Walld destroyed when he built his great mosque," writes Abu-l-Fida. 37 Furthermore, Caetani quotes the testimony of Arculfus, a Christian pilgrim, to the effect that the basilica of St. John was entirely in Christian hands at the time of Mu'awiya. 38 Then there is the inscription of the mosque which runs: "Al-Walid ordered the building of this mosque and the destruction of the church which was in it." Evidently it is difficult to ascertain precisely what was the relative position of mosque and church respectively. Yet, this much is clear that the cathedral itself was not divided into two equal parts between conquerors and conquered. The church is always spoken of as an adjoining building, as a building contiguous to the mosque. The 38

Baladhuri, p. 125. Annales Moslemici. Edidit J. J. Eeiske. p. 432. 3 8 Caetani, Annales, 3*, p. 347. 37

Hafniae, 1789, I,



basilica was eventually taken away from the Christians by al-Wal!d, but 'Umax ibn Abd-al-'AzIz gave them several suburban churches to indemnify them for their loss. Upon his accession to the caliphate 'Umar ibn alKhattab had promised to execute impartial justice. H e said: "By Allah, none is stronger with me than the weak, until I have secured justice for him, and none is weaker with me than the strong, until I have exacted justice from him." 39 I t is well known that he meant precisely what he said. An exhibition of his fairness is found in his visit to Jerusalem. The Arab army had vainly besieged the Holy City all through the winter of 636-7. The defenders of the city, disappointed in their expectation of imperial aid and convinced of their inability to hold out against the Muslims any longer, decided to surrender. However, the aged patriarch, Sophronius, stipulated that surrender was contingent upon the fulfilment of one condition, viz., that 'Umar come in person to settle the terms of surrender. 40 A legend preserved by the Arabs relates that Aretion, commander of Jerusalem, claimed to have read somewhere an ancient prophecy to the effect that Jerusalem would be taken by a conqueror whose name consisted of three letters, a condition which 'Amr's name failed to fulfil, but which was met by the caliph's name. No doubt this little story merely shows the esteem in which 'Umar's fairness was held. The patriarch preferred to deal with the caliph himself rather than with any of his generals. At any rate, 'Umar heeded the petition of the patriarch and set out from Madina at once. Either at Jabia or near that place 'Umar met the representatives 38 Abu-l-Fida, I, p. 222. Baladhuri, pp. 214-5.



of the patriarch and a treaty was written for Jerusalem, which was now invested by Muslim soldiers. When the caliph came to the city, he refused, it is said, to offer up prayer in several Christian churches placed at his disposal. H e refused to avail himself of the offers thus made, giving as his reason that, once he had performed his devotions in a Christian church, it would no longer remain a church, but become a mosque. W i t h reference to the church of the Nativity he ordered that only one Muslim at a time should visit it, but this arrangement was set aside later on and a mosque was erected in the place of the church of the Nativity. 4 1 T h e treaty of Jerusalem, drawn by 'Umar himself, may well be set down here as proof that the caliph did not go to unnecessary or unwarranted lengths. I t reads, according to Tabarï : " T h i s is the covenant which Umar, the servant of Allah, commander of the faithful, gave to the people of Ailia. l i e granted them safety for their persons, their possessions, their churches, and their crosses, their sick and their well, and the rest of the members of their religion. Their churches shall not be inhabited, nor torn down, nor diminished in the least, nor shall their crosses be touched, nor any other possession of theirs. T h e y shall not be compelled against their religion, nor shall any of them be molested. N o Jew shall live with them in Ailia. A n d the people of A i l i a shall pay j i z y a as it is customary in the cities. I t is incumbent upon them that they drive out from their city the Eomans and the brigands. Whoever leaves the city (imperial sympathizers) shall be safe in his person and his property until he reaches his destination. Whoever remains shall receive « Muir, Caliphate, p. 147.



the same treatment as the people of A ilia. And whoever of the people of the country was in the city before the battle and wishes to settle in the city, the same obligations of jizya are upon him as on the people of Ailia. And whoever wants to go to the territory of the Romans and whoever wants to return to his people, he may go. Nothing shall be taken from the people to whom this treaty is given until the harvest has been gathered in. The terms of this treaty are guaranteed by the pledge of Allah, the protection of his messenger, and the protection of the caliphs and of the faithful, as long as they (to whom the treaty is given) pay jizya." 42 Bearing in mind that the Muslims are the conquerors and that they are all but uncivilized, it looks as though they had employed considerable moderation in dealing with those whom they subjugated. That the Jews are forbidden to remain in or return to Jerusalem is undoubtedly due to the Christians' desire to be rid of them. There can have been but few Jews at Jerusalem at this time. "Shortly after the triumphal exaltation of the Cross at Jerusalem, when the order went forth to banish or slay all Jews, all who had warning in time fled to the desert beyond Jordan, there to tarry a change of fortune. As at length they saw the advancing banners of Islam, they welcomed the hosts that came as enemies of the Roman Empire." 43 Thus their hopes to re-establish themselves in Jerusalem came to nothing. Evidently the spirit which had animated his master against the Jews controlled the second caliph also. Otherwise it is hard to explain why he yielded to the demand of the Christians that the Jews « Tabari, I, 5, p. 2406. «»Butler, Alfred J. Arab Conquest of Egypt. Press, 1902, p. 159.

Oxford, Clarendon



be forbidden the Holy City. But the feeling of the Christians against the Jews was not entirely without motive. During the Persian war the Jews had sided with the Persians wholeheartedly, and the Persians had made indiscriminate slaughter among the Christians. 44 But previous to that, Heraclius had systematically persecuted the Jews. The successes of the Muslims against the Byzantines in Syria and Palestine encouraged them to further undertakings against them. Heraclius, realising the utter hopelessness of the imperial cause in Syria, had bidden that rich province a long farewell and had left for Constantinople.45 But the measure of his sorrow was not yet full and another grievous loss was soon experienced by the Byzantine Empire. As in so uncomfortably many instances of this kind the reports of Arabic historians are not at all in harmony about the inception of Muslim activities with regard to Egypt. According to al-Hakam, 'Amr ibn al- 'As! met 'Umar ibn al-Khattab at Jabia A. II. 18 and told him about the desirability of garnering in Egypt for Islam, eloquently enlarging upon the ease with which that rich province might be annexed. H e experienced considerable difficulty in winning the caliph over to his point of view. Finally 'Umar yielded, but with much reluctance, instructing his general to this effect: "If you get orders prohibiting you to proceed against Egypt, leave it alone, provided my message reaches you before you have set foot on Egyptian soil. But in case you are already in Egypt, when my letter reaches you, continue Michel Syrien. Chronique. Edited by J. C. Chabot. Paris, 1910, Vol. II, p. 410. He said, "Peace be unto thee, O Syria," and, "This is an excellent province for the enemy," referring to its abundant pastures. Baladhuri, p. 137.



on your way and implore Allah's aid." 'Ami- left under the cover of night in order that the caliph might not have an opportunity to change his mind and cancel the proposed invasion, while the general was still at hand. 'Umar, learning of 'Amr's move, at once sent a messenger after him, forbidding him to proceed, if he had not yet entered Egypt. When 'Umar's messenger arrived 'Amr delayed opening the caliph's letter, until he had penetrated into Egypt. The letter repeated the verbal instructions 'Umar had given, viz., that if 'Amr were already in Egypt, when the letter arrived, he should pursue his way, trusting in Allah to prosper him in his undertaking.46 Another version informs us that 'Amr undertook the conquest of Egypt on his own initiative, leaving his son in command at Caesarea, where he happened to be at the time. 'IJmar was greatly annoyed at bis general's high-handed behavior and ordered him to return at once, if he had not crossed the Egyptian border when the caliph's letter reached him. 'Amr received the messenger at al-'Arish, a place of which he was assured that it belonged to Egypt. Finally there is the report that 'Umar wrote to 'Amr, while the latter was besieging Caesarea, and ordered him to carry the standards of Islam into Egypt. 47 But if the beginnings of the Egyptian conquest are somewhat obscure, the results achieved by the Muslims in their Egyptian adventure are by no means uncertain. One can hardly doubt that the Muslims knew full well that the Copts, whom the orthodox Emperor had persecuted through Cyrus, patriarch of Alexandria, would not exert themselves in behalf of the government that had used them